FC Halifax Town opened their 2016/17 National League North campaign with a 3-2 win over Nuneaton Town, with Tom Denton scoring a hat-trick on his debut.
With the Warwickshire sun bearing down, the summer signing from North Ferriby gave the travelling Shaymen fans more to cheer about after impressive pre-season displays, by bagging himself the match ball in the opening fixture.
Halifax gained the lead just two minutes into the game - Denton connecting with Josh MacDonald’s corner ball and heading past Dean Snedker.
However, the lead didn’t last long as Aaron Williams quickly equalised for the Boro. The number 10 met the ball from former Shaymen Shaquille McDonald, firmly with his head, dispatching past Steven Drench to put the home side back into the game with only four minutes played.
The control of the game soon fell into the hands of Halifax. MacDonald impressed the crowd on frequent occasions, bombing down the right wing, before floating numerous crosses towards the head of Denton, who was unlucky not to score again in the first half. The giant striker met a cross of Kevin Roberts’ but his header flew across of goal rather than into it.
Halfway through the first 45 minutes, there were claims for a Halifax penalty after MacDonald was brought down in the area. However, referee Ricky Wootton waved played on and denied the Shaymen a potential opportunity to extend their lead.
Despite the impressive performance, Roberts was lucky not to see his marching orders after a rash tackle on left-back Jordan Nicholson. The referee was lenient though, giving Roberts a yellow card only.
After the break, Nuneaton had the first real chance to score. Dave Moli played McDonald through on goal, but the former Derby man fired straight into the hands of Drench.
The impetus quickly changed although. Five minutes later, and Halifax were once again in the lead and through wacky circumstances. MacDonald pinged the ball into the box to the feet of Richard Peniket, who tripped over the ball before firing a shot towards the goal. His shot was blocked and fell into the path of Denton, who toe-poked the ball towards goal to see it trickle through the legs of Snedker.
Not the prettiest of finishes but a goal nonetheless.
The travelling away fans’ voices spurred Town on who soon had their third. And it was the tall figure of Denton who put his name on the scoresheet for the third time. Robert’s whipped the ball into the box via a freekick and Denton rose high enough to beat his man and head home to bag a hat-trick on his competitive debut.
Nuneaton pulled a goal back fifteen minutes before full-time via captain Langsmeade who latched onto a deep cross to head goalwards.
A nervy fifteen minutes ensued, however Halifax did well to remain in control, with Denton nearly grabbing a fourth after his header went wide after a corner. Halifax kept possession in the dying minutes of the game to see the game out for the maximum points.
With just the one goal in pre-season, Denton stamped his name down as one of Halifax’s star strikers in the league, with his blistering performance – a display any manager and fan alike would be overjoyed to see.
FC Halifax Town now face Altrincham at the Shay on Tuesday night, with another win on the minds of Heath and his squad no doubt.
Nuneaton: 1) Snedker; 2) Clifton, 3) Nicholson, 4) Morgan, 5) Langmead; 6) Keane, 7) Tempest, 8) Scott (Daniels 69) 9) McDonald; 10) Williams, 11) Moli (Shorthouse 69)
Subs Not Used 12) Wheatley, 15) Demkiv, 16) Ironside.
FC Halifax Town: 1) Drench; 2) Moyo, 3) Wilde, 4) Roberts (c), 5) Hone; 6) Garner, 7) MacDonald (Hughes 61), 8) Hotte, 11) Peniket; 9) Denton, 10) Burrow (Hibbs)
Subs Not Used 12) Nicholson, 17) Kosylo, 15) Sinnott
Goals: Denton 3, 53, 60 Williams 4, Langmead 75
Yellow Cards: Roberts 42
Red Cards: None
Referee: Ricky Wootton
Man of the Match: Tom Denton