Halifax Town were left frustrated as they missed a last minute penalty in their goalless draw with Solihull Moors.
Just as it looked to be petering out into a disappointing stalemate, Town were gifted a last gasp reprieve but substitute Jason St Juste blasted his shot wide from 12 yards.
The spot-kick was a contentious climax to the game as the away side protested stongly at the decision, but were breathing a sigh of relief as St Juste missed the target in a thrilling climax to a largely uneventful game.
At the start of the hectic schedule, Neil Aspin made three changes from the side that lost at Gainsborough on New Year’s Day. Out went Jason Jarrett, Alex Johnson and Phil Bolland; replaced by Dan Gardner, Lee Gregory and Paul Marshall, making his first start for over a month.
Solihull went into the game having won just once on their travels in the league this season, something which perhaps contributed to their safety-first approach at The Shay, where they also chalked up a goalless draw last season.
The bobbly pitch made it tricky for either side to build any early pressure, although Scott McManus was called upon to make a crucial interception when Junior English was sent clear through the middle.
The defender was at it again a few minutes later with a perfectly timed tackle on Michael Blackwood as he prepared to shoot inside the box.
Solihull’s solid early start was then nearly undone when goalkeeper Jasbir Singh skewed a clearance straight to Gareth Seddon, but the Town striker also didn’t connect properly and his shot flew harmlessly wide.
Town’s revamped midfield were displaying some neat touches, with Marshall and Gardner especially pleasing on the eye; a raking 50-yard crossfield pass by Marshall emphasising his potential contributions to come.
Then Gardner showed what an asset he can be if he stays injury-free with a weaving run from the left touchline that culminated in a fierce right-footed shot that flew narrowly wide of the near post.
Town then forced four corners in quick succession just before the half hour mark, with shots from Seddon and Jon Worthington going close before Solihull were forced to clear the ball to an uninhabited Town half and relieve the pressure.
Marshall then sent another delightful pass from left to right before Gardner shimmied his way into the box and forced a corner, with the pair continuing to offer Town’s most likely route to goal.
Dior Angus’ well struck shot from 25 yards out was the sum total of what the visitors could offer in the first-half, as Town struggled to turn their superiority into clear-cut chances.
One of Town’s best opportunities fell to Worthington just before the hour mark from a cleared Town free-kick, but his attempted left-footed curler went over the angle of post and bar.
The introduction of St Juste seemed to give both players and fans a brief shot in the arm but Solihull remained a frustrating obstacle, with Singh blocking Gregory’s powerful shot at his near post as Town got a glimpse of goal.
But a glimpse it was as chances became few and far between the longer the game went on; while Halifax seemed to grow in frustration at Solihull’s resistance, if anything the visitors became more resolute.
Then in the dying stages, the referee awarded Town a penalty after Worthington and Andre Francis challenged for a 50-50 ball in the box.
Solihull protested furiously at the decision but celebrated as if they’d won the game when St Juste struck the ball wide in the ninth minute of stoppage time.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, McManus, Hogan, Needham, Lowe, Worthington, Marshall (St Juste 62), Gardner (Worsley 82), Gregory, Seddon (A Johnson 75). Subs not used: Senior, Bolland.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 8
Solihull: Singh, Pierpoint, Denny, Kemp (Bennett 85), Spencer, Angus (Francis 70), English, Birch, Blackwood, Beswick (Knights 55). Subs not used: Acton, Fleet.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 2
Man of the match: Dan Gardner