FC Halifax Town
fell to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Lincoln City
after a Ben Tomlinson hat-trick consigned the visitors to only their second defeat in six away games. Ryan Crowther had given his side hope on debut but ultimately the windy conditions and a poor playing surface combined to result in a disappointing defeat and Neil Aspin will be ruing his side’s profligacy in front of goal as several presentable scoring opportunities went by without being converted.
Despite forcing an early corner after lovely link up play between Craig Clay and debutant Crowther saw Scott McManus
surge into the area in the opening seconds, the Shaymen got off to the worse possible start as Ben Tomlinson found himself completely unmarked in the six yard box from a Tom Miller long throw-in on three minutes to prod home and give Lincoln an early lead.
The Imps doubled their lead on eleven minutes when a hopeful long ball forward evaded Simon Ainge
and Marc Roberts
before holding up in the wind for Tomlinson to lob the ball over Matt Glennon
and grab his second goal of the afternoon in the process.
It was quickly becoming clear that the windy conditions around Sincil Bank were becoming a factor that was favouring the hosts in the opening period as Town struggled to find any rhythm going forward.
Again Lincoln pressed forward and Conner Robinson drove a 20 yard effort narrowly wide of Glennon’s left hand post via a deflection when half the ground were expecting it to fly into the bottom corner. Robinson again went close moments later, but this time rather more fortuitously as Roberts’ clearance rebounded off his shin and nearly looped over Glennon but the Town man leapt brilliantly to claw the ball behind for a corner.
However Halifax’s first real chance was guilt edge on the 25 minute mark as a clever one-two between Adam Smith
and Craig Clay saw the latter go through on goal with only Paul Farman to beat, but he rolled his effort straight at the on-rushing goalkeeper.
Three minutes later there was controversy as referee Wayne Barratt showed Smith a yellow card for diving as the former Lincoln man raced into the area before going over the dangling leg of Sean Newton. Smith’s incredulous protestations fell on deaf ears as he went into the book.
Seconds before half time Tomlinson should have had his hat trick as the ball ricocheted to him around twelve yards out where he had yards of space to pick his spot before scuffing his finish against the base of the post. A couple of dangerous deliveries into the Shaymen defence followed and Aspin will have been keen to hear the sound of the half time whistle and bring his troops back into the dressing room to regroup. A powerful 30-yard effort from Matt Pearson
sailed not too far over Farman’s cross bar as the opening period came to a close.
The second half started with Reece Gray replacing Clay to play in a more advanced position behind Lee Gregory
and it took just six minutes of the second half for Town to take advantage of the wind as Crowther’s in-swinging free kick around 35 yards from goal on the far side sailed straight over everyone’s head and into the far corner to cut the deficit to just one goal. However just as it looked like Halifax were to push on for the equaliser Tomlinson raced through on goal and this time made no mistake as he sealed his hat-trick by clipping the ball over Glennon for 3-1.
On the hour mark Robinson again came close as he cut inside Jon Challinor on the left wing before curling a right footed effort round Glennon and narrowly wide of the far post. Moments later man of the moment Tomlinson’s afternoon was soured ever so slightly as referee Barratt again produced a yellow card for simulation after he went over a challenge from Smith.
Seven minutes later Town came very close through talisman Gregory as Smith’s left footed effort deflected into his path but the angle became too tight and he could only hit the post. Seconds later Crowther cut in from the left hand side before drilling a low 20 yard effort towards the near post but it was beaten away by Farman.
A glorious chance then presented itself to the visitors as Gray, Gregory and Crowther all had bites of the cherry before the latter crashed an effort over the bar from close range after Gray had his shot deflected and Gregory was denied by Farman.
As the stoppage time announcement loomed Delano Sam-Yorke raced onto a blocked clearance to square for Alan Power who had all the time in the world to make it four with only Glennon to beat, but he rolled it wide of the far post.
As the final seconds counted down Marc Roberts
powered a header from a free kick that was spectacularly saved by Farman and from the resulting corner there was an epic goalmouth scramble where Town looked certain to force the ball over the line but it was eventually cleared away from danger.