Retford United 0 FC Halifax Town 2: Town display is just champion

Town completed their bid for back to back titles with five games to spare after winning 2-0 at already-relegated Retford.

First half goals from Danny Holland and Liam Hogan proved more than enough to beat the basement dwellers who did not have a shot - on or off target - throughout the entire 90 minutes.

FC Halifax Town seal winning the Evo-Stik Premier League with a 2-0 win over Retford United at Retford

FC Halifax Town seal winning the Evo-Stik Premier League with a 2-0 win over Retford United at Retford

They were, however, very accommodating towards the Town fans who invaded the pitch on the final whistle to celebrate the club’s elevation to Conference North.

Town could have had far more than the two goals they got.

But a combination of good work from home keeper David Darwent and the vagaries of the bone hard, rutted and bobbly Cannon Park pitch helped keep the score down.

Retford defender Niall O’Brien sent a long throw crashing against Jonathan Hedge’s stanchion after just four minutes but no one touched it so it was never a chance - and that was as close as the home side got over the course of the afternoon.

The Shaymen did what they could to entertain the large travelling contingent - the crowd of 829 was 50 per cent bigger than the previous best against FC United.

And Scott Phelan lashed in a swerving effort from the edge of the area after six minutes which Darwent did well to keep out as he dived to his left.

Moments later a Simon Garner header had the keeper scrambling for a moment and when Jamie Vardy turned O’Brien inside out he produced a decent shot that was blocked by a defender.

Danny Lowe won a 20th minute corner which Tom Baker swung into the mix and a heavier touch from Vardy would surely have seen the ball bounce into the net.

They had to wait a further three minutes to finally break the deadlock and it was a move that belied the surface that led to the goal.

Holland found Vardy on halfway and his delightful reverse pass set his team mate free down the middle. Holland was able to keep the ball under control before firing home.

Moments later Holland sent Baker into the area on the right, but on this occasion Darwent saved.

The chances kept coming.

Vardy got clear down the centre of the pitch but his shot lacked the power to beat the keeper and when Holland and Lee Gregory combined to release Vardy on the right soon after he crossed for Garner who was beaten by an eccentric bounce as he shot.

Lowe’s cross from the left was knocked down by Vardy for Gregory, whose shot was easily saved, as was Phelan’s effort from distance soon after.

Liam Hogan should have had a penalty when he was hauled to the floor by a Retford defender as he tried to get on the end of a Garner free kick.,

But within a minute the central defender had doubled the Shaymen’s lead, timing his run perfectly to head home a Garner corner from the right.

The second half followed the same pattern as the first with the fans just waiting for the final whistle so they could celebrate.

Gregory played Vardy through in the 54th minute, but the resulting effort was blocked by the keeper with his legs.

Seven minutes later Vardy pulled the ball back for Lowe who sent over a decent cross and Gregory headed just wide.

The Shaymen were so much on top they could have called the game off to save Retford from further punishment.

But the home side’s goal was leading something of a charmed life as Town continued to create opportunities.

Vardy was beaten by the pitch just past the hour as he tried to go round the keeper but only managed to lose his footing and hit the deck.

Andrew Milne, given a rare start at right back in place of Aaron Hardy, showed his pace with a break down the right that took him past a couple of Retford players with ease. He was also able to cross low, albeit slightly behind Gregory, who did well to control, turn and get a shot away, Darwent saving yet again.

Holland curled an effort over the top after taking a Phelan pass and Town continued to carve open the home side right to the end.

Scott Hogan raced into the area and had an effort blocked, Vardy pouncing on the rebound only to see it deflect wide off Holland.

And in the dying seconds, with the crowd poised to race onto the pitch to be with their heroes, Vardy got through one last time and on this occasion he rounded the keeper, but his touch was too strong and he was denied the goal he craved.