Ross Dyer’s first goal since last December sealed a hard-fought 1-0 win for FC Halifax Town over Aldershot at the Shay.
Dyer has had to wait patiently for his next chance after starting the first two games but grasped his opportunity here with an assured finish.
On the day Neil Aspin was named manager of the month, his side were made to work hard to preserve their 100 per cent home record.
It’s now six wins out of seven for the Shaymen, who edged past an Aldershot side who had also only lost once before today, and you could see why as they pushed Town all the way.
But the introduction of Dyer after an hour helped shift the momentum in Town’s favour before a nervy finish as Town clung on to the win.
It was apparent from the opening exchanges that Aldershot were a different proposition to the team that were thrashed 4-0 at the Shay last season.
Their attack of Brett Williams and Josh Scott combined pace and trickery and propelled the visitors to four shots in the first 10 minutes.
One of which, from Adrian Forbes, brought a fine save from Matt Glennon.
Most of their attacks came down the left flank through the lively Jordan Roberts as the Shots played with arguably a more adventurous spirit than the previous three visitors to the Shay this season.
That meant there were plenty of chances early doors, with Steve Williams and Jamie Jackson both getting efforts at goal inside the area.
Such was Aldershot’s brighter start that Town switched to a 4-4-2, as they did at Bristol Rovers, midway through the first-half.
The alteration offered Town more presence up front with Jackson alongside Scott Boden, and almost immediately Jackson saw his goal-ward prod roll agonisingly wide of the empty net after he’d beaten the on-rushing Phil Smith to a through ball.
James Bolton, who by now had got to grips with opposite number Roberts, then drilled a low shot wide after Forbes’s awful attempted clearance.
But it took a timely block by Bolton to take the sting out of Scott’s effort after a clever step-over by Williams.
In an end-to-end finish to the opening half, Marshall was only denied a tap-in by a desperate last-ditch clearance after Boden’s knock-down.
The first-half had featured some uncharacteristic individual errors by the Shaymen, perhaps unsettled by Aldershot’s assured display, although neither side was helped by a slippery surface.
It also meant Marc Roberts needed a towel to dry the ball before every missile he launched from the touchline.
Like last Saturday, Town were sharper after the restart, with Boden twice bringing good saves from Shots keeper Phil Smith in the opening five minutes.
Bolton also flicked a header wide from a Roberts throw but there remained a more disjointed feel than usual to Town’s approach play.
Jackson’s last contribution of the game before being taken off could have been the cause of a red card for Oastler as he appeared to be clattered into on the edge of the area as they chased a through ball.
But referee Wayne Barratt, who sent off eight players in 26 Conference Premier games last season, including Lois Maynard at Forest Green, waved play on.
Set-pieces, including long-throws, offered Town’s biggest threat, as evidenced by Glenn Wilson’s superb clearance from a corner after Roberts’ header across a packed penalty box.
Aldershot were creating far fewer chances since the restart, although Jordan Roberts’ shot forced another save from Glennon after an hour.
There was a sense of pressure mounting before Dyer’s goal as the Shots defence repelled a series of Town crosses.
But from Smith’s fine delivery from the left, Dyer calmly stroked the ball in at the far post.
Aldershot nearly hit back straight away after an excellent run and shot by Williams before the hosts cleared off the line from the subsequent corner.
The contest had now come full circle as chances flooded in; Boden again raced clear but slid his shot across goal and beyond the far post.
Substitute Danny Schofield’s first touch was probably the best of the whole match as he released Dyer, but Smith raced off his line to save before Schofield then blazed over seconds later.
The game was now entering stomach-churning territory as the minutes ticked by and Aldershot threw bodies forward; if only Dyer had settled the nerves.
Instead, wayward clearances by Steve Williams and Matt Pearson under no pressure cranked up the tension.
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, M Roberts, Williams, McManus, Smith (Schofield 85), Maynard, Pearson, Marshall, Jackson (Dyer 61), Boden. Subs not used: Senior, Ainge, K Roberts.
Scorer: Dyer (72)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 8
Aldershot: Smith, Oastler, Tonkin (N’Guessan 79, Derry 85), Lathrope (Fitchett 79), Wilson, Hatton, Gibbs, Forbes, J Roberts, B Williams, Scott. Subs not used: Thomas, Diallo.
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: Adam Smith