Gregory’s double boosts Shaymen

Halifax Town 2

Eastwood Town 1

Two goals from Lee Gregory - the first an absolute stunner - helped Town to victory over Eastwood at the Shay.

But they suffered their almost traditional nervous final quarter after letting the visitors back into the game just past the midway point in the second half.

Ravaged by injury and sickness - Scott McManus withdrew due to illness on the morning of the game - the Shaymen included three players, Jason St Juste, James Marwood and Brett Renshaw, making their full debuts with Phil Senior making his first appearance of the campaign.

For an hour the disruption in the lead up to the game, which included injury to Liam Hogan and Danny Holland, appeared to be having little affect on the side as they dominated almost completely.

But once they conceded the jitters returned and there was a real sense of relief when the referee blew the final whistle to signify a second home win of the season.

Town threatened early with Lee Gregory crossing from the left but just too far in front of Harry Winter as he raced into the area.

But they took the lead after five minutes following a great move that started on the edge of their own area with Tom Baker.

He lifted a pass to Ryan Toulson on the right who played a great ball forward for Gregory to race onto.

He threw off two defenders with a fine turn before curling an exquisite left footed shot beyond the reach of the Eastwood keeper.

And the Shaymen continued to look comfortable, although the defence was called into action as the ball came back at them far too often for anyone’s liking.

Baker found Gregory on the right, but his shot intended for the late arriving Winter, hit the first defender.

And when James Marwood found Winter with a decent pass wide on the right he rather wasted the opportunity with an overly-ambitious shot.

The pace of Marwood and Jason St Juste was clearly worrying the visitors but it was a Danny Lowe cross that almost opened up the Eastwood defence midway through the first half, Gregory bringing it down well 12 yards out only for a defender to stick a foot in and dispossess him.

Marwood tried a shot from the edge of the area under pressure, but it lacked the power to trouble James Severn in the Eastwood goal.

Lowe and Simon Garner combined well before Winter laid the ball back for Baker whose shot from the edge of the area was blocked.

Winter did well to square the ball for Marwood on the right, but his effort, after beating a couple of defenders, was also blocked.

And a Baker free kick from the right reached David Haggerty at the back post, but he headed down and Brett Renshaw, sliding in, connected with the keeper rather than the ball.

Not until added time at the end of the first half did the visitors get an effort on target but Aaron Mitchell’s header from a poorly awarded free kick bounced straight into keeper Phil Senior’s arms.

The Shaymen should have doubled their advantage three minutes after the break when Marwood crossed low from the right after being released by Toulson.

But Gregory was unable to convert from six yards, St Juste failed to connect when the ball fell to him and both Garner and Gregory and Toulson had efforts before Severn dived on the ball.

Gregory made amends after 52 minutes after he had been fouled on the right when he headed home Garner’s curling free kick for 2-0.

Marwood’s cross from the right was well defended by Sam Benjamin and Gregory narrowly failed to get on the end of Lowe’s driven cross after he had surged into the area

Moments later, Winter weaved a bit of magic on the right to shrug off the attentions of Gavin Caines and crossed but Gregory’s first time effort on the turn cleared the bar as did Winter’s well struck shot from distance soon after.

Gregory had a shot cleared off the line by Benjamin after the keeper had spilled a Winter effort on the hour as the Shaymen continued to press.

But they were rocked on their heels after 65 minutes when substitute Jarrod Westcarr raced clear to reduce the arrears just four minutes after being sent on from the bench.

That set the nerves jangling on the terraces and there were some nervy moments on the pitch as Eastwood grew in confidence.

Westcarr sliced an effort wide of the target although Haggerty had clearly been fouled before the ball landed at the Eastwood man’s feet.

St Juste did well again with six minutes remaining, turning inside the area on the left and drilling in a cross that the keeper shovelled away from goal.

And Alex Troke had a great chance from a free kick on the edge of the area soon after, curling his effort narrowly wide of Senior’s goal.

Jason Bradley bundled his way through to win a corner three minutes from time, Danny Holland heading clear.

And Haggerty got back well to clear a Josh Burge cross behind for a corner from which Bradley headed narrowly wide.