Hatters fall to Shaymen

FC Halifax Town 2 Luton Town 0

Saturday, 29th March 2014, 4:42 pm
No Caption ABCDE

Hatters suffed a jolt to their Skrill Premier title charge as they went down to a tame defeat at FC Halifax Town this afternoon, writes Mike Simmonds.

The hosts’ who boasted the division’s second best home record were good value for victory too, as they overpowered Luton at times, with the visitors never seriously threatening keeper Matt Glennon.

In a match that was billed as a shoot out between the league’s top goalscorers Andre Gray and Lee Gregory, it was the Shaymen’s front man who won the day, scoring his side’s second, with Gray replaced late on.

Town boss John Still named an unchanged side from the victory at Grimsby, but the hosts served notice of their danger from set-pieces early on, with Simon Ainge’s header easy for Mark Tyler.

Ainge then excelled at the other end as he bravely blocked Alex Lawless’ fierce drive after Paul Benson’s lovely flick inside.

Marc Roberts’ Rory Delap-esque throw looked like it would give Town plenty of difficulty, but it was the defender’s aerial prowess that led to the opener on 17 minutes.

A high corner was poorly defended allowing Roberts’ downward header to find the roof of the net despite the best efforts of Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu.

Undeterred by the opener, Hatters were quickly on the attack, forcing three corners and from the last, Gray missed his kick from close range, with the danger eventually cleared.

Gregory, who had been kept quiet up until 37 minutes, showed marvellous close control to beat Steve McNulty and it was only a terrific sliding challenge from Fraser Franks that stopped him making it 2-0.

Adam Smith put the rebound high over the bar as the Shaymen looked to have the physical edge over the visitors, particularly in the midfield area.

They showed that again when Ruddock Mpanzu was dispossessed just outside his area and Ryan Crowther’s curler flew inches wide.

Hatters’ front two had also been well marshalled, as Benson had a first real chance on 41 minutes, but finding a yard of space and at full stretch, he could only toe-poke over.

Halifax almost had a second as from another corner, Roberts rose highest yet again. This time Tyler got both hands to his header, but fumbled against the post and behind for another corner.

Back came Town as Gray escaped the attentions of the home defence, only to rather selfishly opt for the spectacular with options available, firing into the stands.

The Town striker then had another opening, showing his pace and strength to turn Franks’ hopeful hack forward into something, but his pass to Benson was overhit and the opportunity gone.

In the second period, Tyler came to Franks’ rescue when his header straight into the air was almost pounced upon by Gregory.

Shaymen stopper Glennon was then off his line just as quickly to dive at the feet of Benson.

With Hatters finally gaining some ascendancy, Gray had huge shouts for a penalty when his run into the box was halted by former housemate Ainge, but referee Karl Evans waved the appeals away to the despair of Town’s top scorer.

On 57 minutes, Luton had another let off as Tyler came speeding out of goal, was beaten to the ball by Gregory, but with the angle against him, could only fire behind the vacant goal.

The Town keeper then did time his charge right, as Crowther’s direct run and pass almost released Gregory once more.

Halifax’s time-wasting tactics finally wore the patience of the officials out on 66 minutes, with Smith shown yellow for delaying and delaying a free kick.

The hosts weathered Town’s pressure though and had a second on 69 minutes when Franks played Gregory onside and he advanced against the back-pedalling defender, sending Tyler the wrong way to coolly find the corner.

Gray proved it wasn’t going to be his day as he found some space but again hammered off target and was immediately replaced by Luke Rooney with 15 minutes to go.

Tyler’s insistence on racing out of his area almost cost him when he sprinted out, almost losing possession, before nervously hacking away for a throw.

The keeper showed good handling to claim Pearson’s long ranger late on, but the Shaymen ran the game down professional, pumping any sort of loose ball as far away from their goal possible.

Cambridge’s draw against Barnet though meant that despite Town suffering only a fourth defeat of the campaign, they remained a mighty 13 points clear at the top of the table.

Halifax: Matt Glennon, James Bolton, Scott McManus, Simon Ainge, Marc Roberts, Paul Marshall, Adam Smith (Josh Wilson 81), Matty Pearson, Lois Maynard, Ryan Crowther (Marlon Jackson 70), Lee Gregory (C).

Subs not used: Phil Senior, Chris Smith, Danny Lowe.

Hatters: Mark Tyler, Ronnie Henry, Scott Griffiths, Steve McNulty, Fraser Franks, Cameron McGeehan, Matt Robinson, Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu (Mark Cullen 67), Alex Lawless, Paul Benson, Andre Gray (Luke Rooney 74).

Subs not used: Anthony Charles, Elliott Justham, Jon Shaw.

Booked: Smith 66

Referee: Karl Evans.

Attendance: 3,586 (1,179 Luton).