FC Halifax Town opened their 2016-17 pre-season account with a resounding victory at local neighbours Brighouse Town.
A deadly double from Jordan Burrow and a neat finish from the impressive Connor Hughes gave the Shaymen a commanding first half lead before youngsters Elliott Harrison and Shiraz Khan extended the advantage just after the break.
Brighouse pulled one back but trialist – and former Shayman - Jamie Jackson restored the five-goal cushion before Richard Peniket netted a late brace.
Only three players named in new manager’s Billy Heath’s starting eleven at the Dual Seal Stadium represented Town at Wembley in the FA Trophy Final triumph against Grimsby but that trio of Burrow, Hughes and Josh MacDonald showed an abundance of attacking intent.
Heath alluded to utilising an orthodox 4-4-2 formation this season at last week’s Q&A session with a lot of emphasis on his two wingers providing a lot of width.
And Hughes – on the left – and MacDonald – on the opposite flank – certainly did not disappoint. The wide men combined after only five minutes with Hughes chesting down MacDonald’s cross before firing over. Hughes came closer two minutes later when Paul Hagreen did well to keep out his stinging shot.
The visitors were on the front foot but they could have fallen behind on 12 minutes had Tom Haigh’s shot not been straight at Steve Drench.
Hughes was continuing to cause problems at the other end, however, as a fabulous solo run ended with a shot which whistled narrowly wide before he crossed for Tom Denton – Burrow’s strike partner - who could only head off target.
It was then MacDonald’s turn to get back into the action as his low cross was somehow turned over the bar by Burrow. But after Liam King had a goal-bound effort bravely blocked, the Shaymen got the goal they had been threatening when Burrow’s towering header from a terrific MacDonald cross found the far corner after 24 minutes.
Town – and Burrow – didn’t have to wait long for a second. Just six minutes later Hughes found some space in the box on the left and squared for last season’s top goalscorer for an easy tap-in.
Although Ernest Boafo fired wide when well placed for the home side, Town took a commanding lead into the break after Hughes – who seconds earlier had an effort ruled out for offside – got the goal his performance merited with a cute finish into the bottom corner from 18 yards.
It was a totally different eleven who came out for the second half but Town were just as offensively devastating.
Youngsters Elliott Harrison and Shiraz Khan both impressed as they each scored within ten minutes of the restart, with Matty Kosylo – Nantwich’s star man last season – at the heart of the action.
Brighouse didn’t let their heads drop as Buchanan, arguably, scored the game’s best goal with a thunderous drive which left substitute goalkeeper Tom Nicholson motionless.
Jamie Jackson – who was at The Shay during the 2014-15 campaign – showed Heath his goalscoring instincts with a striker’s finish on 69 minutes before Richard Peniket – hoping for an injury-free season – turned in Kosylo’s cross from the by-line seven minutes later.
Jordan Sinnott was denied a wonderful goal by the Brighouse stopper as he tried his luck from 35 yards whilst the electric Kosylo saw an ambitious lob land inches wide.
Kosylo then headed over from close range before he darted into the box to selflessly set up Peniket for his second to wrap up the scoring as Town secured a comfortable win.
FC Halifax Town First Half XI: Drench, Moyo, Wilde, Hone, Garner, King (C), Hibbs, MacDonald, Hughes, Denton, Burrow
FC Halifax Town Second Half XI: Nicholson, Roberts, Baldwin, Barrows, Hotte, Harrison, Sinnott, Kosylo, Khan, Jackson, Peniket
Brighouse Goalscorer: Buchanan
FC Halifax Town Goalscorers: Burrow (24, 30) Hughes (45) Harrison (50) Khan (56) Jackson (69) Peniket (76, 86)