FC Halifax Town climbed back out of the Vanarama National League relegation zone with a stunning 4-2 victory over promotion-hopefuls Grimsby Town at The MBi Shay Stadium.
A season high attendance of 3,131 witnessed one of the best performances of the season from The Shaymen, as the hosts confidently brushed aside Grimsby to take a deserved victory, banishing any memories of the 7-0 defeat in the reverse fixture back in October.
Town responded in the perfect manner from last weekend's 2-0 defeat against Forest Green Rovers with a fantastic attacking display to inflict just Grimsby’s third defeat in their last 20 games in all competitions.
First half goals from debutant Billy Whitehouse, James Bolton and Nicky Wroe gave Town a 3-0 lead at the break, before three late goals were added in a frantic finale.
The division’s top-scorer Padraig Amond pulled one back for the away side, while Jake Hibbs’ superb 25-yard free-kick and Jon Nolan’s late strike completed the scoring.
Jim Harvey made two changes to the side which started against Forest Green, handing Whitehouse his debut as Sam Walker dropped to the bench, while Richard Peniket came into the starting eleven in place of Jordan Burrow, as the home side adopted a 5-4-1 formation.
Grimsby enjoyed much of the early possession but it was Town who fashioned the first opening of the game. Whitehouse looked lively from the off as he charged into the box following a mazy run, but he could only fire straight at James McKeown in The Mariners goal.
The away side created a first chance of their own when Nolan played in Amond, but Grimsby’s top-scorer was unable to get a shot away. Town countered down the other end to devastating effect, with Whitehouse sweeping home from James Bolton’s delivery to give The Shaymen the lead in the ninth minute.
Kingsley James switched the play with a great ball out to Bolton, whose deflected cross was met by the on-rushing Doncaster loanee, who slammed home to cap-off the perfect start to life in Town colours.
The Shaymen had Kevin Roberts to thank after he cleared off the line when Sam Johnson could only partly deal with Andy Monkhouse’s cross, allowing Grimsby captain Josh Gowling a clear shot on goal. With Johnson beaten, Roberts reacted instinctively to hook away the danger and preserve Town's lead.
Grimsby threatened again moments later, but Johnson was at his very best to deny the visitors, pulling off a brilliant low save from Amond's goal-bound header.
After Omar Bogle fired a 25-yard free-kick straight into the wall, Josh McDonald headed narrowly over the top as The Shaymen pushed for a second.
A second goal did indeed come just two minutes later, as Bolton rose highest to power in a free header from Scott McManus’ fine delivery, doubling Town’s advantage in the 25th minute.
Within the space of three minutes two nil turned into three nil, as captain Wroe was left with the simplest of finishes following a great team move.
The lovely interchange of play culminated with Peniket releasing James into acres of space down the left hand side. The midfielder burst into the box and squared across the goalmouth to find an unmarked Wroe, who coolly netted his fourth goal of the season.
At the other end a scramble in The Shaymen’s box fell to Monkhouse, but the midfielder blazed over from 6 yards, squandering a clear cut chance for the away side to pull one back. The Mariners continued to apply the pressure, but each time the home side’s defence dealt with any danger.
MacDonald could have added a fourth just before the break, but the winger's hesitancy cost him as he took too many touches when trying to make room for a shot, allowing Grimsby to mop up as the half-time whistle blew.
Paul Hurst made a double change with Bogle and Monkhouse replaced by Jon-Paul Pittman and Nathan Arnold respectively, as Grimsby came out of the traps quickly at the start of the second half.
However Town remained resolute at the back and almost caught the visitors on the break, only for Bolton to lose possession at the key moment. Peniket was then played in by the impressive Whitehouse, but the former was thwarted by Grimsby’s defence.
Both sides missed good opportunities with substitute Burrow firing just wide, while at the other end Amond blazed over. What followed was a hectic final five minutes to the game which saw three goals scored in the closing stages.
The away side pulled one back through Amond, who bundled in his 26th goal of the campaign when Johnson failed to connect cleanly with an attempted punch. Town went straight down the other end and won a free-kick 25-yards out, as Hibbs stepped up and curled a delicious strike into the top corner for his first Town goal, leaving McKeown with no chance.
Grimsby scored a second almost immediately after the restart, as Nolan lashed home a crisp finish for the sixth goal of the game. Four minutes were added on, but Town held on to record their eighth win of the season to move up to 20th, while The Mariners remain third after only their fifth defeat of 2015-2016.
Man of the Match: Kevin Roberts