Tamworth 2-6 FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town got their promotion push well and truly back on track with a stunning 6-2 win at Tamworth.
Three goals in five minutes from Richard Peniket, Matty Kosylo and Adam Morgan put Town in control, with Peniket, who was later sent-off, adding a fourth just before half-time.
Substitute Aaron Opoku got one back for Tamworth, but that proved a false dawn as Morgan added a fifth after Peniket’s dismissal before Kosylo racked up the half-dozen.
It was Town’s first away win in the league since October 22, and it moves them back to within three points of the play-offs, with a game in hand.
The Shaymen were unrecognisable from the team that slumped to defeats against Matlock and Curzon and that dreadful draw with Telford.
Confidence is a precious commodity in football and it was flowing through the veins of the visitors, with the passing and movement of Morgan and Kosylo highly-influential.
The defence was also transformed back into a disciplined, well-organised unit, and in front of it, Halifax repeatedly seeped through a flimsy-looking Tamworth.
Just as Town’s downturn in form from their seven-game winning run was so unforseen, so was the return of this free-flowing, free-scoring Halifax after such an awful run of form.
But long may it continue.
Steve Drench returned in goal, while Josh Macdonald replaced the suspended Danny Hone as Town reverted to a flat-back four.
And a bit of desperate defending with the scores at 0-0 hinted they could be in for a busy afternoon, with Josh Wilde and Scott Garner both getting in the way of dangerous efforts.
But that was before Town romped into the lead, playing with the kind of freedom that assistant boss Mark Carroll had hoped to see after Tuesday’s win over Chorley.
You’d never have guessed they’d just won their first game in 10 in midweek as the blitzed Tamworth with some incisive attacking play and clinical finishing.
First, Peniket danced round a Tamworth defender before his shot was deflected and looped over keeper James Belshaw.
Then, after Morgan had been clattered on the edge of the box, Kosylo produced a delicate chip over the wall and into the top left corner from the free-kick.
It just kept getting better as Kevin Roberts’s cross was brilliantly headed into the bottom right corner by Morgan from 15 yards out.
Three goals in five minutes; crisis? What crisis?
They were singing “Heath out” and “You don’t know what you’re doing” at Town’s last away game, but now the away fans were chanting “Billy, give us a wave”, and he did, with glee.
Tamworth’s efforts at a fightback already looked forlorn, with Louis Briscoe bringing a fine save from Drench before Stephan Morley drilled the rebound wide.
Meanwhile, everything Town continued to hit was still going in, with Peniket again seeing an effort loop over Belshaw via a deflection after Kosylo’s superb through ball sent him clear behind the home defence.
The only blot on a stunning opening half was an injury to David Lynch, for who it can only be assumed was the reason an ambulance was driven to the dressing rooms at half-time.
Tamworth boss Andy Morrell made a double change at the break - he’d probably have made 11 if permitted - and one of his substitutes made an immediate impact as Opoku latched onto a through ball before lifting the ball over Drench from the right-side of the area.
Garner then blocked Briscoe’s goalbound shot as the hosts at least produced a response from their first-half horror show.
Town’s afternoon then threatened to implode when Peniket was shown a straight red card for an elbow on Jack Lane on the hour mark, with the striker putting his hands on his head in disbelief at the decision.
But the visitors took the sting out of the game before extending their lead when Morgan latched on to Cliff Moyo’s through ball and slipped the ball low beyond the on-rushing Belshaw.
Town weren’t done yet though, with Kosylo twisting and turning inside the Tamworth box before firing the ball high past Belshaw from an angle.
Andy Burns’ late effort barely raised a cheer when he turned in Briscoe’s volley from a corner.
Tamworth: Belshaw, Burns, Deeney, Tomassen (Davis 46), Lane, Morley, Mills, Clarke, Davies (Opoku 46), Briscoe, Dyer. Subs not used: Dodd, Morrell, Mpofu.
Scorers: Opoku (49), Burns (89)
Shots on target: 8
Shots off target: 4
Halifax: Drench, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Macdonald, Clarke (Moyo 59), Lynch (King 45), Kosylo, Wilde, Peniket, Morgan (Simmons 82). Subs not used: Nicholson, Denton.
Scorers: Peniket (21, 41), Kosylo (24, 81), Morgan (25, 73)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 1
Town man of the match: Adam Morgan
Referee: Steve Copeland