FC Halifax Town 3
Nantwich Town 1
Jamie Vardy took his goal tally to an incredible eight in three games as Town’s march towards the Evo Stik Premier Division title continued to gather pace.
He struck in each half, with Liam Hogan heading home in between, as the Shaymen extended their winning run to five matches.
The win increased Neil Aspin’s side’s lead at the top of the table to 14 points and kept alive their hopes of clinching a second successive promotion at the weekend.
Scott Hogan almost opened up the visitors’ defence in the third minute with a pass that was just too strong for Danny Holland.
Minutes later a neat Holland header inside for Lee Gregory was reached first by a defender who guided it back to the keeper.
The Shaymen were dominating, with Nantwich happy for the home back four to have the ball, forcing them to knock it long into a crowded half.
Town almost broke the deadlock after 14 minutes when Tom Baker and Gregory combined to release Holland on the right.
He crossed deep for Jamie Vardy who leapt well only to see his header come back off the Nantwich crossbar.
Baker’s attempted pass for Gregory moments later saw the striker caught offside, but the feeling inside the ground was that it would only be a matter of time before the Shaymen scored.
Casper Hughes sneaked up on Holland to deny him a shot from the edge of the area and Scott Hogan crossed from the right for Gregory, whose header flew over the bar.
Vardy swapped wings with Scott Hogan and almost set up his fellow winger with a cross from the right, but the ball bounced off the top of Hogan’s head and wide.
Holland’s pass, intended for Gregory, went behind his fellow frontman as the Shaymen continued to probe for an opening.
Nantwich had to wait until the half hour mark to get the ball close to Jonathan Hedge’s goal, full back Jake Sedgemore slicing a cross into the Town keeper’s arms.
The Shaymen finally got he goal their dominance deserved after 33 minutes as Liam Hogan’s diagonal pass had found brother Scott. He laid it back for Lowe who beat Sedgemore before crossing and Vardy raced in to head home powerfully from 10 yards.
Three minutes later Nantwich had a great chance when Michael Lennon crossed from the left, but Town skipper Mark Bower was there to clear under pressure from Jason Oswell.
Vardy played a great pass forward for Gregory on the right and it took a good challenge from Charlie Reeves to deny Holland as he tried to capitalise on the low cross.
Nantwich almost levelled a couple of minutes before the break when a Sedgemore free kick from the left reached the far post, but Liam Hogan was there to clear.
Town almost doubled their advantage three minutes after the break when Gregory’s clever flick found Scott Hogan, but his shot at full stretch was turned round the post by Nantwich keeper Daniel Platt.
But it was the visitors who struck on 56 minutes when Glynn Blackhust found Michael Carr on the edge of the area and his low, curling shot nestled in the back of the Town net.
Lowe popped up in the visitors’ box 11 minutes into the second half, sending a glancing header from Baker’s cross, wide of the target.
But the game, and the atmosphere inside the ground, had gone very flat with the players struggling to lift themselves.
They almost did it route one from a Hedge clearance that was flicked on by the impressive Holland, but Gregory’s volley ended up going just over the bar.
Holland cut a frustrated figure as he was continually pushed in the back by the Nantwich defenders whenever he tried to leap for the ball.
But he almost restored Town’s lead just past the hour when Vardy sent him free on the left but his low shot was saved by the keeper.
The Shaymen should have had a penalty a minute later when the visitors failed to deal with a Baker free kick and Holland rose with a defender whose arm diverted it back to the keeper.
Nantwich, beaten 6-0 by Town a little over a month ago, started to slow the game down at every opportunity.
Vardy moved into a more central role in a bid to use his pace against the visitors’ central defenders and was surprisingly cautioned after a clash with Ashley Carter who appeared to be the aggressor.
Carr, on the other hand, escaped any censure after leaving a foot in on Gregory soon after.
The Shaymen were back in front after 72 minutes after Gregory’s pass found Vardy on the right and he won a corner. Garner took and Liam Hogan powered a header into the back of the net.
Holland got free on the right and drilled a shot in that Platt saved with his body and the striker then lifted a pass forward for Vardy to run onto, but the keeper raced off his line to claim.
The Shaymen wrapped it up with 10 minutes remaining when Platt’s free kick was sent straight back towards goal for Vardy to run onto. He raced into the area and smashed the ball high into the roof of the net.
He could have completed his hat-trick with a couple of minutes remaining when he latched onto a Gregory pass, but his low effort was saved at the second attempt by Platt.
And he was only denied by a fingertip save in injury time after he got his head to an Andrew Milne cross.