WET, wild and windy were the ingredients thrown up by nature on a brutal night at the Launa Windows Stadium.
United rolled up their sleeves to produce a performance full of fight and courage in securing a vital 2-1 win over a powerful Halifax side, with both Yellow goals defying the conditions with their pure quality.
Ryan Bowman and Duane Ofori-Acheampong hit the net before half-time and a late consolation from Lois Maynard failed to remove gloss from an excellent all-round display.
United manager Chris Hargreaves made three changes from the side beaten in a bruising encounter with Barnet on the weekend. Suspension ruled out Aaron Downes, injury was the problem for Durrell Berry and Jordan Chapell dropped down to the bench.
Angus MacDonald came in at centre-half to partner Krystian Pearce, who himself was nursing a black eye after a horrible collision with Barnet’s John Akinde. James McQuilkin made his first start in Yellow as an emergency right-back in place of Berry, with Dale Tonge and Tom Cruise also absent through a combination of injury and illness.
Louis Briscoe moved to the right-wing in place of Chapell, allowing a start for Ofori-Acheampong in a powerful forward partnership alongside Bowman. Ben Harding was back on the bench after a long spell out with a hamstring problem.
Halifax boss Neil Aspin had the luxury of naming the same side that overcame Forest Green seven days ago, with his side enjoying the rare pleasure of a weekend’s rest ahead of the long trip to South Devon.
The Shaymen started brighter in the brutal conditions, pumping balls into the Yellow box for an early test to the pairing of MacDonald and Pearce ahead of goalkeeper Martin Rice. Scott Boden also kept United’s number one keen with a deflected shot just over the bar.
The Gulls just did not get started on a night of horrendous weather that called for big hearts and it was a fact emphasised by Maynard running 50 yards unopposed before MacDonald made a brave challenge on the edge of the box.
A harsh wind whipping into Yellow faces naturally gave the visitors an advantage in the first-half and United were grateful to captain Luke Young for charging down a shot on the turn by Boden, taking enough pace off the ball for Rice to make a comfortable save.
Halifax were completely dominating events and they had the freedom of the left flank to find an overlapping Scott McManus, who should have done better with a dinked cross that failed to find the unmarked Ross Dyer at the back-post.
It took 24 minutes for United to muster a shot on target but the skidding effort from Young was easy for Matt Glennon to gobble up and Halifax were soon up the other end for a scuffed shot from Boden that bobbled harmlessly wide.
Toby Ajala then had the best attempt of a drab opening 30 minutes, cutting inside for a shot that flew narrowly over. TQ1 then erupted with amusement as a fierce low shot from Courtney Richards had referee Richard Martin diving across the sodden turf in a failed attempt to avoid the ball.
United were soon singing the praises of Rice, diving courageously at the feet of Will Hatfield to block a shot from point-blank range after the ball had run loose in the penalty area, and the reward was soon to arrive in sublime fashion.
The move started with Levi Ives winning the ball and feeding a pass to Young, who quickly shifted the ball to Ajala and the next threaded pass was perfectly weighted for Bowman to steer a neat finish past the stranded Glennon. It was a marvellous goal made even better for the simplicity of the move in terrible conditions.
Adam Smith responded in admirable fashion for the Shaymen, bombing down the right wing before drilling over a low cross to the near-post that, mercifully, ricocheted off a few saturated socks before scuttling wide.
Moments later, it was 2-0 for United and it all came from Bowman’s determination in gaining possession on the right touchline and his low cut-back was perfect for Ofori-Acheampong to side-foot home.
Massive credit to the Gulls for withstanding the weather and a sluggish start to the game by coming through with two well-taken goals and a very welcome half-time advantage, although Rice was still required to make a good low block from Boden’s effort in the dying seconds of 45 satisfactory minutes.
Aspin displayed his displeasure by making two changes at the interval, removing the ineffective Hatfield and Simon Ainge for the fresh legs of Jamie Jackson and James Bolton.
Halifax barely had time to settle before they were thanking the leniency of referee Martin in only booking skipper Marc Roberts after a savage challenge on Young. The only defence of the decision was taking into consideration the difficult conditions.
Paul Marshall immediately pounced on the reprieve to find space in the left channel for a powerful drive that whistled past the far post, as United, once again, struggled to get going at the start of a half.
From out of nowhere, Pearce slipped a pass to Ajala, who turned instantly before unleashing a wonderful dipping shot from 25 yards that had Glennon diving at full stretch to tip wide. Richards had the next fine effort from distance but the Halifax goalkeeper was again equal to the challenge.
United were back on top again but it was turning into a night where a reshuffled back four deserved special praise for standing strong against a physical Halifax unit, a point typified by MacDonald launching himself into a block-tackle that must have hurt and yet did the job of thwarting Boden.
Hargreaves decided the time was right to freshen up his troops, withdrawing Ofori-Acheampong for Yeoman, while Aspin made his last change, replacing Dyer with Richard Peniket.
The tempo had died and it was all an invitation for Halifax to attack a tiring United side, but Marshall was just unable to find his range with a swerving shot from the right edge of the penalty area.
There was, however, a sense of inevitability about the visitors finding a way back into the proceedings, although Pearce was very unlucky to slip at the vital moment, allowing the ball to be fed inside for Maynard to cushion a low shot past Rice.
Cramp then ended the evening for the excellent McQuilkin, prompting a move to right-back for Richards and Harding was brought into the engine room for five massive minutes in United’s campaign.
Chapell for Briscoe was the final Yellow change and United just about, but very much deservedly, held on for three valuable points.
United (4-4-2): 1 Martin Rice; 22 James McQuilkin (6 Ben Harding 84), 5 Krystian Pearce, 21 Angus MacDonald, 25 Levi Ives; 7 Louis Briscoe (12 Jordan Chapell 88), 8 Luke Young (capt), 16 Courtney Richards, 10 Toby Ajala; 9 Ryan Bowman, 24 Duane Ofori-Acheampong (14 Ashley Yeoman 72). Substitutes (not used): 23 Jordan Seabright, 30 Oneil Odofin.
Halifax (4-4-2): 27 Matt Glennon; 15 Kevin Roberts, 4 Marc Roberts (capt), 6 Simon Ainge (9 Jamie Jackson H-T), 3 Scott McManus; 7 Adam Smith, 20 Lois Maynard, 36 Will Hatfield (2 James Bolton H-T), 8 Paul Marshall; 10 Ross Dyer (12 Richard Peniket 72), 19 Scott Boden. Substitutes (not used): 1 Phil Senior (GK), 22 Danny Schofield.
Booked: Kevin Roberts 45, Marc Roberts 51
Referee: Richard Martin
Attendance: 1,470 (75 away).