Two goals from Matty Kosylo and one from Dion Charles eased FC Halifax Town to a 3-0 victory at Harrogate Town.
Charles and Kosylo were both on the bench against Fylde, but were back with a bang here, orchestrating some fluent and free-flowing football that Harrogate couldn’t cope with.
There was no Good Friday hangover from The Shaymen as they outplayed a Harrogate side who already appeared to be counting down to the end of the season.
The end of Halifax’s season now looks very likely to be prolonged after this win, and although second placed looks out of reach, on this form, they’ll be the team to avoid in the play-offs.
Town went in front from a rapid counter-attack through Jordan Sinnott after a driven cross by Joe Colbeck, and then Jon-Paul Pittman’s return ball, flashed through the Halifax area, with Charles, who certainly didn’t have a Good Friday hangover having not featured, lashing home the loose ball from 12 yards past Peter Crook.
The return of Charles and Matty Kosylo either side of Richard Peniket - Tom Denton’s apparent unsuitability to Harrogate’s 3G pitch meant he was again dropped to the bench - gave Town a pacey attack, which caused the hosts problems at the back.
Jon-Paul Pittman headed against the bar from Joe Leesley’s free-kick as Harrogate sought an equaliser, but the hosts lacked Halifax’s finesse going forward, and weren’t attacking with the same incisiveness and directness.
Town’s midfield triumvirate of Kosylo, Charles and Sinnott were eye-catching, and Kosylo was purring with some deft touches and bursts forward.
And after superb play by Charles to beat his man, he pulled the ball back to Kosylo just inside the area, and his right-foot shot whistled past the motionless Crook at his near post.
Kosylo nearly added a third soon afterwards, but volleyed over after Peniket’s dinked cross; Harrogate just could not live with The Shaymen’s superior quality going forward as the floodgates threatened to open.
Left-back Ben Parker was given a torrid time by Kosylo, who played like he was on fast forward all afternoon, and time and again got past him, either flicking it over his head or outpacing the besieged defender.
Charles should have capped a fine first-half from Town by adding a third, but blasted the ball wide from Peniket’s cut back.
Former Town defender Simon Ainge had netted 18 goals in his 13 games as a striker, but hardly got a kick, and would probably have been more use as a third centre-back; by half-time, Town could have had twice as many goals, while Sam Johnson hadn’t been forced into a save.
He was on the hour mark when Luke Shiels’ header was straight into his grasp, after Crook had tipped over Sinnott’s free-kick from a tight angle in what was a quieter second-half.
It was now more of a battle and a scrap for Town to preserve their two-goal lead, with Scott Garner coming to the fore, leading the defence with composure and concentration.
Substitute Marcus Day was unlucky to see his low shot hit the post before Scott McManus made his first appearance in a Halifax shirt for nearly a year since the FA Trophy final in May.
Kosylo got his second and Halifax’s third with a tap-in from Charles’ pass across goal to seal a superb performance.
Harrogate: Crook, Colbeck, Shiels, Ellis, Parker, Emmett, Burrell, Platt, Leesley, Pittman, Ainge (Day 52). Subs not used: Lees, Porrit, King, Elliott.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 9
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Kosylo (Denton 82), King (Clarke 56), Lynch (McManus 73), Sinnott, Charles, Peniket. Subs not used: Drench, Morgan.
Scorers: Charles (10), Kosylo (28, 78)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 5
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo
Referee: Matthew Dicicco