A Mitch Hancox hat-trick condemned FC Halifax Town to a losing start to 2018, suffering a frustrating 4-1 defeat against National League table-toppers Macclesfield Town at MBi Shay Stadium.
Macclesfield – having tallied a win against The Shaymen on Boxing Day at Moss Rose – pounced with two goals on either side of half-time, with a Scott Wilson strike and Hancox’s third from the penalty spot cancelling out George Waring’s second-half consolation as The Silkmen claimed all three points. A cagey opening saw neither side able to establish a foothold in the contest, with the stoic Halifax defence thwarting Macclesfield’s attacking prowess in the opening stages.
The buoyant Shaymen searched for an unlikely opener before Macclesfield responded with a period of heavy pressure before the 20-minute mark – only for Halifax to notch the best chance of the opening half-hour. Connor Oliver’s glancing header from a Town corner flashed inches over the stranded Sam Ramsbottom’s unguarded goal, as Halifax looked to take the lead as the break beckoned.
Replacing the injured Michael Duckworth in the line-up – Dion Charles injected energy into The Shaymen’s attacking arsenal, wriggling away from defenders in the box before teeing up the onrushing Michael Collins, who could only rifle his powerful strike wide of the target as the pressure began to mount on The Silkmen’s back-line.
As the momentum began to shift in Macclesfield’s favour, all of Halifax’s hard-work was to be unravelled with seconds remaining in the opening 45 minutes. Hancox escaped beyond the last Halifax defender, pounced on a through ball and coolly slotted home from close-range to nudge Macclesfield ahead as the half-time whistle sounded – painfully reminiscent to how the first-half ended a week earlier as Halifax slipped to defeat against The Silkmen at Moss Rose.
Hoping to bounce back from a first-half hammer-blow, Halifax through caution to wind with an electric opening to the second period – only to be cruelly punished at the back once more as the clinical Macclesfield claimed a second. Danny Whitehead’s defence-splitting cross unlocked The Shaymen again, with Hancox lashing home from six yards to double the away side’s advantage.
The Silkmen continuously hemmed Halifax deep inside their own territory as the table-toppers ramped up the tempo and pushed for more, netting a third after Shaymen shot-stopper Sam Johnson could only parry Whitehead’s drive into the path of Wilson who turned in with ease to bag a third for Macclesfield in the 62nd minute
Despite the opposition smelling blood, Halifax’s resilience showed as The Shaymen fought back into contention, rapidly responding to Wilson’s strike through George Waring’s stunning spinning finish to narrow the deficit as Halifax hoped to mount a miraculous comeback.
Seconds after marching back into the contest, Macclesfield extended their advantage once more from the penalty spot after Cliff Moyo was adjudged to have tangled with a Silkmen player inside the area. The fiery Hancox stepped up and viciously rocketed in a thumping spot-kick to restore Macclesfield’s three-goal lead and seal a hat-trick for the electrifying frontman.
An action-packed second-half continued to deliver in abundance, offering Halifax a lifeline after Josh MacDonald was hauled to the ground in the penalty box as the referee awarded a second spot-kick. The struggling Ben Tomlinson stepped up however and blazed his effort high over the crossbar to compound The Shaymen’s woes on a difficult afternoon.
A positive rally to end the match saw Waring’s fierce salvo whistle wide of the Ramsbottom’s right post before substitute Adam Morgan nearly made an instant impact – seeing his 35-yard pile-driver sensationally tipped over by the soaring Silkmen keeper as Macclesfield held on to advance their surge towards National League promotion.
FC Halifax Town: 1 Sam Johnson, 2 Cliff Moyo, 3 Josh Wilde, 6 Scott Garner ©, 9 Tom Denton (38 George Waring 51′), 10 Connor Oliver, 14 Ben Tomlinson (28 Shiraz Khan 88), 15 Josh MacDonald, 20 Jake Hibbs, 22 Michael Collins, 40 Dion Charles (16 Adam Morgan 79′)
Subs: 13 Tom Nicholson, 28 Ross Barrows
Macclesfield Town; 12 Sam Ramsbottom, 3 David Fitzpatrick, 4 Keith Lowe, 5 George Pilkington ©, 9 Scott Wilson (Marsh 74′), 11 Ryan Lloyd (Arthur 82′), 15 Kieran Kennedy, 16 Mitch Hancox, 18 Danny Whitehead (Durrell 80′), 20 Scott Burgess, 14 Noe Baba
Subs: 10 Courtney Richards, 23 Danny Whitaker
Goals: Hancox (45′) (47′) (70′), Wilson (60), Waring (69′)
Yellow Cards: Garner (1′), Pilkington (62′)
Red Cards: None
Attendance: 1,962 (321)
FC Halifax Town 1-4 Macclesfield Town
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