Kevin Holsgrove snatched a dramatic late winner to hand FC Halifax Town a 1-0 victory over Southport at the Shay.
Town were made to work hard for their win, which extends their unbeaten run to four games, and had to wait until the 86th minute before Holsgrove smashed in his third goal of the season.
An injury to Lee Gregory was the only blot on the day, as he sustained what looked like a wrist injury during the second-half, but Holsgrove ensured his absence wasn’t felt for today at least as he took his place up front before sealing Town’s third win of the campaign and lifting them above Southport in the table.
Neil Aspin kept the same starting 11 for the third game running, but after the fireworks of red cards, sloppy backpasses and goals galore so far this season, this game didn’t quite catch fire in the same manner.
Town made most of the running as Southport seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure, but the visitors were largely effective in negating the threat from the Shaymen.
Indeed, Town came closest from set-pieces in the first-half, with Marc Roberts’ bullet header cleared off the line within the opening ten minutes.
Birthday boy Gregory then saw an acrobatic shot hacked away from the goal line after a slick counter-attack by Town saw Smith spread play out to Holsgrove before the ball eventually came back to Gregory in the box.
Lois Maynard caught the eye as much as anyone in the Town engine room, engineering many attacks with some bursting runs from midfield which deserved better than to peter out into nothing.
Adam Smith also saw plenty of the ball on the right but couldn’t find an end product to his direct runs towards the box, eventually deciding to cut in on his left foot and have a shot, which flew over the bar.
Southport rarely troubled the hosts in the opening half, with Matt Glennon only called into action when a wayward cross appeared to be drifting in but for his tip behind.
There wasn’t quite the same zip in Town’s performance as there had been on Saturday, which was understandable considering the draw at Macclesfield had come only 48 hours earlier.
Town continued to be in the ascendancy after the interval, and produced some promising attacks without creating that clear opportunity, although Pearsonshowed remarkable resilience to escape two Southport defenders only to badly miscue his shot six yards from goal.
The game then came to life midway through the second half when Ryan Toulson was booked for a high challenge on Karl Ledsham moments after Holsgrove’s fierce long-range drive was parried by Danny Hurst.
Gregory went for the rebound with the keeper and came off worst, injuring his wrist in the process and booking himself an immediate appointment at Calderdale Royal.
That seemed to puncture the atmosphere a little, coming as it did in the midst of a promising spell for Town, with most supporters probably wondering about the prognosis on Gregory’s injury as much as their team’s chances of victory.
Those chances seemed to rise as Dan Gardner reinvigorated Town with ten minutes left, prompting a swift break forward as he played in Johnson before McManus’ cross fell to Smith, but he fired into the side-netting.
That was a warning Southport didn’t heed though as Gardner produced a delightful through ball to release Holsgrove, and the forward kept his composure to drive the ball past Hurst.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, Roberts, Ainge, McManus, Smith (Lowe 84), Pearson, Maynard, Holsgrove, Wilson (Gardner 58), Gregory (Johnson 65). Subs not used: Senior, Briggs.
Scorers: Holsgrove (86)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 8
Southport: Hurst, Challoner, Flynn, George, Fitzpatrick, Chalmers, Ledsham (Irie-Bi 66), Brown (Milligan 46), Rutherford (Tames 76), Hattersley, Osawe. Subs not used: Stevenson, Smith.
Shots on target: 0
Shots off target: 2
Man of the match: Lois Maynard