Lee’s on fire as Town cut loose

Nantwich Town 0

FC Halifax Town 6

Lee Gregory bagged a 22-minute hat-trick as Town stormed to victory with six second half goals in Cheshire.

The Shaymen must have been wondering if they would ever score after completely dominating a goalless first half.

But once Tom Baker had fired them in front nine minutes after the break they couldn’t stop.

Gregory took his tally to 12 in 10 games while Richard Marshall was also on target after Rod McDonald had turned a Jamie Vardy cross into his own net.

And it could have been so many more.

As expected, Danny Holland replaced James Dean in the Shaymen’s three-pronged attack alongside Vardy and Gregory.

And it was the visitors who had the first chance when Gregory was fouled on the edge of the area after two minutes, but Baker sent his curling free kick into the keeper’s arms.

Moments later, Baker took a return pass from Vardy following a corner on the left and crossed for Mark Bower who headed down and wide from 12 yards.

It was all Halifax in the early stages as Holland held the ball up well and sent Vardy racing down the left, but his hard, low cross was cleared.

Vardy was causing the home side all sorts of problems and was freed by Marshall again after 10 minutes only to pull his cross behind his team mates waiting in the middle.

Baker’s long 10th-minute pass was brought down well by Gregory whose shot was blocked out to Vardy. He cross first time but Holland was unable to keep his far post header down.

Nantwich had to wait until the 16th minute for their first corner, conceded when Mark Bower headed a Michael Lennon cross clear, but nothing came of it.

At the other end, Marshall picked out Vardy with a long diagonal pass and he flashed an effort across the face of goal and wide.

The Shaymen should have been in front just before the half hour from a Simon Garner corner on the right. Gregory met it perfectly with his head and it was goalbound until hitting Holland’s back and deflecting over.

It appeared only a matter of time before the Shaymen, with full backs Aaron Hardy and Danny Lowe getting forward at every available opportunity, broke the deadlock.

Gregory closed down a defender and blocked the ball into Holland’s path after 33 minutes, but the striker’s first time shot went wide.

Nantwich’s first effort on goal finally arrived with 10 minutes of the half remaining when Jake Sedgemore curled in a free kick that had the previously unemployed Jonathan Hedge scrambling.

Town broke swiftly and Sedgemore was involved at the other end, bringing down Gregory just inside the home area, although the referee saw no foul.

Marshall and Lowe both tried their luck from distance as the half came to an end with Town wondering how they had not managed to score.

The Shaymen might have broken through in the opening minute of the second half when Holland back heeled the ball into Gregory’s path, but his well struck effort was kept out by the keeper’s legs.

And that set the tone for a further lengthy spell of Town possession as the home struggled to contain the marauding visitors.

Vardy was denied twice in quick succession by Adam Allcock in the Nantwich goal and Gregory went on a superb run to the edge of the area before curling an effort narrowly wide.

Having dominated for so long it was something of a relief when the Shaymen finally went ahead after 54 minutes.

And, having played some neat stuff with Gregory and Holland heavily involved, it ended up being a deflection off Michael Carr that sent Baker’s shot into the net.

Three minutes later they doubled their advantage when Holland dispossessed Rod McDonald and fed Gregory who finished well.

Gregory then made it two in two minutes - and an emphatic 3-0 to the Shaymen - when he took a sublime Liam Hogan ball in his stride and lifted it exquisitely over Allcock.

Marshall was denied by a full length dive from Allcock before Vardy’s cross from the left was turned into his own net, via a post, by McDonald.

Gregory then sent Baker clear down the middle, but he was denied by the keeper.

James Dean replaced Holland and almost scored with his first touch as he slid in to try to meet a Gregory cross but narrowly failed to connect.

Nantwich finally had a shot in the 76th minute after good work from veteran Rodney Jack on the right, but Lennon skied his effort well over from 10 yards.

Scott Hogan was twice denied by defenders before he had a hand in Town’s fifth of the night, heading down a Mark Bower knock for Gregory to complete his hat-trick from close range.

And Marshall made it six with eight minutes remaining, drilling home a free kick from 30 yards.

Lowe almost added a spectacular seventh in the final minute, but his long range effort flashed narrowly over the bar.