FC Halifax Town
posted the perfect response to Sunday’s disappointing season opener by beating well-fancied Wrexham
3-2 on Tuesday night’s home league debut.
First half goals from Lois Maynard, Josh Wilson and Lee Gregory
– in-between an Ainge OG and an Adrian Cieslewicz goal – ensured the home faithful would not be disappointed on the Skrill Conference’s return to the Shay.
Town, eager to make up for Sunday’s demolition at Cambridge, started well. Winger Adam Smith outpaced Wrexham
full-back Neil Ashton and picked out captain for the night Lee Gregory
, whose prod towards goal was saved by Joslain Mayebi.
, who narrowly defeated Welling on Saturday, took their time to grow into the game. Their first chance fell to Andy Bishop, who couldn’t find space for a shot, before setting up Jay Harris, who dragged a tame shot wide.
Matty Pearson was one of the stand-out performers at Cambridge, and he showed his class once more as he disposed Jay Harris in midfield before driving at the Wrexham
defence and hitting a poor effort wide, with Lee Gregory
in a better position.
But it was the visitors who would strike first. More slick build-up found Adrian Cieslewicz in space on the right side of the Town penalty area, and his low cross was diverted into the Halifax net by a sliding Simon Ainge.
A sloppy period then followed the goal, as first Kevin Thornton was booked for a very late challenge on Simon Ainge and then Town’s Adam Smith was too cautioned, as he handled in the Wrexham
area. Thornton then narrowly avoided another booking in quick succession after a bad tackle on Pearson, but he and his team would pay the price for poor discipline.
Josh Wilson, the scorer of an excellent set piece in pre-season, smashed the underside of the Wrexham
crossbar with the resulting free-kick, and while Town players disputed whether or not it had crossed the line, Lois Maynard cleared all doubt as he headed in the rebound past the helpless Mayebi.
This triggered the Shaymen into action, and they soon had a refereeing decision go for them, rather than against them. A dink from Matty Pearson over the top of the Wrexham
defence found Lee Gregory
who was hauled down by Stephen Wright. The right back was shown a straight red and Josh Wilson, on his home debut, smashed the penalty under Mayebi to give the Shaymen the lead.
But the Town onslaught wasn’t over. After a Scott McManus
shot was powered over the Wrexham
crossbar, Ryan Toulson
delivered a delicious right wing cross and captain Gregory was there to poke the ball past Mayebi at the second attempt, leaving the Shaymen in complete control at the break.
The visitors began the second half strongly, forcing stand-in keeper Phil Senior
- in the side for the suspended Matt Glennon
- into some smart goalkeeping. And they nearly reduced the deficit eight minutes into the second period, as a sublime ball in from Johnny Hunt somehow alluded the two Wrexham
players waiting at the back post.
But Town should have extended their lead not long after. Another superb cross from Toulson deflected off the back of a Wrexham
player, and Kevin Holsgrove –another making his home league debut – smashed the resulting effort just wide of the post.
though continued to press, and missed another golden opportunity. Excellent link-up pay between Ashton and Hunt then found Cieslewicz in acres of space in the Town area, but he skewed his shot wide when it seemed easier to score. Andy Bishop then also went close, but his goal bound effort was superbly blocked by Ainge.
Town remained resolute despite their opponent’s dominance, and continue to get forward when they could. Josh Wilson’s delightful chip found Matty Pearson, but his cross was well dealt with by the Wrexham
then entered the fray - for the first time since he limped off against Stockport in pre-season - and nearly made an instant impact. He was fed by the excellent Lois Maynard, but his shot was brilliantly saved by Mayebi.
were soon on the front foot again though, as Adrian Cieslewicz saw his shot blocked behind, and then Kevin Thornton’s header was brilliantly blocked off the line by a Town boot.
But Town’s resistance finally broke ten minutes from time, as a wonderful ball into the box by Johnny Hunt was diverted home by Cieslewicz past the leaping Senior to ensure a nervy final period.
Town would hold on though - despite a late rasping effort from Cieslewicz which forced a super save from Senior - to register their first points of the new campaign in front of their delighted home fans.