FC Halifax Town
enjoyed a successful invasion of Welsh football last night, as they cruised past a lowly Colwyn Bay
with three unanswered strikes.
A goal each for Lee Gregory
, Gareth Seddon
and Chris Worsley
was enough to ensure Town brought the three points back to England, and a third shutout in succession took the Shaymen’s clean sheet tally to seven out of the last ten – one fewer than the entire of last season.
Welsh football seems to be enjoying somewhat of a purple patch. Swansea lead the way with their excellent performances in the Premier League and capture of the Capital One Cup, Cardiff are sitting pretty at the top of the Championship and Wrexham and Newport County are both gunning for promotion to the Football League (the former also has a date at Wembley in the F.A. Trophy final).
Even Chester, who are, in essence, half Welsh, are flying high at the top the Blue Square North having lost just once in the league all season. Colwyn, however, seem to be the exception that proves the rule.
Geographically-speaking, Colwyn do top Welsh football, but the side that sits on one of the Northern-most peaks of the country, is the lowest-ranked Welsh representative in English football’s top seven tiers.
After promotion alongside Town from the Northern Premier in 2011, Colwyn impressed with a solid mid-table finish in 2012. Though a poor end to that campaign – which saw Bay win just twice in 14 games – seems to have crept over into this. It did not help, either, a star player in Sean Williams swapping the Red Lion Foods Stadium for The Shay.
He started last night in a familiar midfield holding role, as the Shaymen welcomed the return of Seddon, starting for the first time since Town’s trip to Solihull Moors
ten days ago, as he marked a full recovery from a recent bout of tonsillitis.
Sat in the stands for the match was the Chester management, on a scouting mission ahead of the league leader’s trip to The Shay next week.
Neil Young, a former Colwyn manager himself, and his assistant, Gary Jones, scribbled down notes as Town looked to break down the home side on a pitch that was so soggy, it looked to have gelatinous properties.
Seddon was the first to find his feet, testing Chris Sanna in Colwyn’s goal with a strike from outside the area, that the stopper did well to hold.
Gregory, however, tested Sanna’s resolve with an effort that was far too hot for goalkeeper to handle. The Town striker showed great strength to win a long ball before laying off, receiving in a one-two with Dan Gardner
on the edge of the box and unleashing a ferocious strike which Sanna did well to get a limb to.
Town were now causing consistent problems, as twice in a minute they went within a whisker of leading. First Gardner’s effort looked bound for the far post until it was met by a brilliant fingertip from Sanna, before the goalkeeper was again at hand to parry Gregory’s snap-shot on the turn from close range.
Eventually, though, after half-an-hour, Town did take the lead, and it came from the Gregory-Gardner axis that had carried the majority of Town’s attacking threat.
Gardner received the ball on the right flank, beating his man with a clever flick of the heel and crossed to an unmarked Gregory, who had no trouble in placing home.
Seddon finished the match 35 seconds after the restart. Gardner played a long ball through the Colwyn defence, onto which latched Seddon, who only had to knock past the onrushing Sanna and place home. The strike was Seddon’s 19th of the campaign, but bizarrely, only his ninth in the Blue Square North.
It was only now, far too late, that Colwyn showed any urgency in their play. The Seagulls’ captain, Rob Hopley, should have done better than nodding tamely into Matt Glennon
’s hands when unmarked in the box.
They went even closer via a long range effort from substitute Jamie Crowther. Glennon did well to stretch and parry the ball away and excelled further to block Jamie Ellison’s shot, as he latched onto the loose ball.
Despite some Welsh resistance, however, Town still looked comfortable throughout and would have ended all hope of a home side turnaround, were it not for former Chelsea defender, Frank Sinclair.
Sinclair, at 41 years of age, now plays for and manages struggling Colwyn, and used all of his years of defensive nous to manoeuvre himself into the perfect position to block a Gregory shot on the line following a melee in the box.
Town still pressed and went close through Gardner from range, though his effort drifted wide of Sanna’s right-hand post.
On 73 minutes Town did end all hope for the home side. Worsley picked up the ball 25 yards from goal, turned and whipped an emphatic looping effort past Sanna for his fourth goal of the campaign.
From then on in, it was a simple task of playing out the match for Town, though they really should have extended their lead still further from one of a number of chances created.
The best fell to Seddon, who couldn’t quite react to Sanna spilling a Williams cross in front of goal, the ball rebounding off the striker’s leg and wide.
The win moves Town onto 60 points for the season, and also marks an impressive record of goal scoring, as Neil Aspin’s side have now netted 22 in six away from The Shay.
It is a record Town will be keen to continue in their next fixture, the second of this season’s north Yorkshire derbies against Harrogate Town