FC Halifax Town and Chorley will meet again on Tuesday night after their FA Cup fourth qualifying round tie ended 0-0.
Both teams will go into the draw on Monday after a full-blooded contest; try asking these 22 players if the FA Cup still matters.
Town knew they were in for a fight and that’s what they got as they kept out former Town striker James Dean and his in-form side.
The Shaymen looked the likelier to break the deadlock but Chorley worked hard enough to warrant a second shot at Halifax, although their best chance to knock them out may have been and gone.
A replay at the Shay will be a formidable obstacle for Garry Flitcroft’s men.
The clash had ‘good old-fashioned cup-tie’ written all over it, from the tight ground over-looked by houses to the cramped press-box with laptops on knees.
It was literally standing-room only in parts of the stadium, which showed Chorley had struck gold by landing Town in the draw, although Halifax would have preferred a side without a home record they themselves would be proud of.
No wonder it’s called Victory Park; Chorley had won their last six home games in a row and were unbeaten there since March 4.
The physical nature of the contest was evident right from the off, with Dean nudging and niggling against Simon Ainge and Marc Roberts for early high balls.
Chorley were forced to field debutant Danijel Nizic, 19, on loan from Burnley, in goal after their first-choice keeper injured his ribs in training on Thursday.
His first kick of the afternoon flew straight out of play before he came together in a crunching 50-50 with Richard Peniket.
Welcome to non-league football young man.
Dean headed over after Marc Roberts produced a fine block as Josh Hine threatened to shoot at goal.
They both scored in the 4-1 win at Bamber Bridge in the last round and looked lively early on, with
Hine in particular offering a real threat down the Chorley right.
But Town looked up for the blood-and-thunder battle Neil Aspin was expecting, with Steve Williams’ pressing near the Chorley box leading to a chance for Lois Maynard, who fired narrowly over.
Dean was the epicentre from which most of Chorley attacks revolved, with his sheer physicality and presence giving the Town back-three plenty to worry about.
Superb crosses by Adam Mather and Harry Winter called for a couple of outstanding clearances from the Town rearguard.
Marc Roberts then headed wide from Paul Marshall’s corner before Scott Boden’s low cross just evaded Richard Peniket.
The front-two were making some penetrating runs in-behind the Chorley defence as Town started to quieten the crowd, with Matt Pearson and Scott McManus both having a go from range.
Nizic had to time his challenge perfectly just before the break as Peniket threatened to reach a through ball first, but the keeper had shown few signs of nerves despite being thrust into his club’s biggest game of the season so far at such short notice.
It was a scrappier start to the second half, with too many loose touches and stray passes for either side to build any momentum.
Town were starting to show their higher-league quality though with McManus getting on the ball down the left flank and Paul Marshall having more influence over proceedings.
Dean had been much quieter since the interval, thanks in no small part to the shadow-like presence of Marc Roberts, but almost burst into life when Kyle Jacob’s excellent cross whistled just past him at the back post.
Ross Dyer, back from his loan at Southport, was brought on for his first appearance for more than a month and went close to writing one of those classic FA Cup stories, but Nizic tipped his shot round the post.
Chorley’s defence looked panicked whenever Town put the ball in the box, especially with the added presence of Dyer in attack.
The away side were more composed in possession as Chorley perhaps started to glance with one eye towards the clock.
The game finished in true cup-tie style with some brave blocks and crunching tackles, and there should be plenty of that on Tuesday night too when they meet again.
Chorley: Nizic, Jacobs (Cottrell 90), Mather, Teague, Smyth, Roscoe, Hine (Almond 88), Winter, Dean, Dorney, Jarvis (Mulholland 69). Subs not used: Lynch, Simm, Grundy.
Shots on target: 0
Shots off target: 3
Halifax: Glennon, McManus, Roberts, Pearson, Ainge, Marshall, Peniket, Williams (Dyer 65), Roberts, Boden (Smith 82), Maynard Subs not used: Senior, Bolton, Jackson, Schofield.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 6
Town man of the match: Marc Roberts