A hat-trick from Lee Gregory helped FC Halifax Town to only their second away win of the season as they thrashed Hyde 5-1.
The Tigers’ roar was never really in full voice as the Shaymen eased to victory, with Gregory making it a remarkable 25 goals in 28 games and underlining the momentus task Halifax will have of replacing him should he leave this summer.
Ryan Crowther got Town up and running before Paul Marshall also bagged a rare goal as the visitors ensured the play-offs are still a possibility.
Halifax also went a small way to redressing the balance away from home as they equalled their goals tally from their last six games on the road put together.
Given Hyde’s dreadful home form this season, anything other than a win would have been a major disappointment, but Town swept aside their beleagured hosts with style.
Neil Aspin kept the same side from last week’s 2-0 win over Tamworth, with Danny Lowe making a return from injury on the bench.
Crowther was also making a return to familiar territory, having been a roaring success in three separate spells at Hyde, and made his mark here in spectacular style.
Adam Smith’s corner was cleared as far as Crowther 20 yards out before the winger executed a delightful volley into the bottom corner through a crowded penalty box.
That came after Crowther had badly miscued a shot wide following the impressive Lois Maynard’s superb pass as Town settled into their stride quickly, seemingly determined to grasp the chance Hyde’s home record offered them to finally double their tally of away wins.
The Shaymen were much more competitive than their recent defeats at Chester and Lincoln as they pressed the ball high up the pitch and provided good support to Gregory up front.
It looked a matter of when not if for the Town skipper, who was in the mood from the off after suffering, by his standards, a two-game drought without a goal.
That was ended when Marc Roberts nodded James Bolton’s free-kick across goal and Gregory tapped in at the far post.
Only the brilliance of keeper Chris Kettings prevented Gregory doubling his tally with a fine reaction save at his near post before Hyde nearly halved the growing deficit.
The pereviously untroubled Matt Glennon was deemed to have handled the ball outside the area when he picked up a through ball, but then produced a superb save from the resulting free-kick by Josh Brizell.
After so many away trips where Town have played second fiddle, it was refreshing to see a home side dancing to Halifax’s tune as the Shaymen enjoyed the same kind of dominance they usually get at the Shay.
Crowther and Smith got plenty of chalk on their boots as they repeatedly ran at Hyde’s two wing-backs, forcing the hosts deeper and reasserting Town’s authority over the contest.
There was no let-up after the restart either as Gregory headed just over from Roberts’ dinked cross moments before Marshall scored his second of the season with a superb curling shot from the edge of the box.
Just when it seemed Town could start to enjoy themselves, Hyde were allowed a glimmer of hope when Simon Ainge’s slip allowed Jordan Clark to find Alex Brown in the box, and the midfielder smashed home from eight yards out.
But Town’s three goal cushion was soon restored as Marshall was given too much time to pick out Gregory, who ran clear despite Hyde’s protestations of offside and rounded Kettings before rolling the ball in.
Gregory then bagged his third hat-trick of an astonishing season when he drilled low past Kittings from Maynard’s through ball.
That prompted another chorus of ‘We’ve got Lee Gregory’ from the Town supporters, who may have to enjoy him while they can, with such scintillating form bound to attract an offer too good to refuse.
Hyde: Kettings, Brizell, Haining, Ashworth, Blakeman, McQuade, Clark, Brown, Lomax (Kiwanda 70), Carlton, Hughes (Kirby 70). Subs not used: Thornton, Fitzgerald, Pollard.
Scorer: Brown (56)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 2
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Ainge, Roberts, McManus, A Smith (Jackson 59), Marshall, Pearson (C Smith 67), Maynard, Crowther (McReady 78), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Lowe.
Scorers: Crowther (9), Gregory (27, 61, 82), Marshall (50)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 5
Town man of the match: Lee Gregory