FC Halifax Town secured their place in the play-offs for the second season running as they drew 1-1 with fellow promotion contenders Guiseley at the Shay.
The visitors took a deserved lead through Josh Wilson’s penalty, but Town roared back after half-time, just as they had done at Nethermoor at the start of the month and drew level thanks to Lee Gregory and made it seven matches unbeaten thanks to a much-improved second-half showing.
There will be few surprises for either side should they meet again in the play-offs having played each other twice in April, and judging by those two meetings, there’ll be little to choose between them.
Neil Aspin again made just two changes from his previous starting eleven, with Adam Jackson making his debut in place of Jon Worthington, while James Knowles replaced Danny Glover.
The Town boss reverted to a back three from the set-up against Harrogate, but Town lacked the early zip they had shown at Wetherby Road, perhaps not surprisingly though given that was less than 48 hours earlier and the cumulative effect of their April schedule.
Guiseley started in confident mood with sighters from the impressive Seb Carole and Gavin Rothery, the first saved by Matt Glennon and the second curling wide of the far post from a corner.
Sean Williams’ shot then drifted over from 25 yards out but Guiseley were enjoying most of the possession against a Town side who looked like their recent run of fixtures was maybe starting to catch up with them.
Josh Wilson nearly capped a neat move in and around the Town box but Glennon got down sharply to his right to tip it behind before Danny Ellis headed wide at the far post from the resulting corner.
Jackson’s header from Town’s first corner was then saved by Steve Drench but chances were rather sporadic as both defences proved tricky to break through.
But the fleet-footed Carole proved too quick for James Knowles, and cleverly drew a foul from the Town man inside the box.
Wilson duly stroked home his 20th goal of the season to give Guiseley what few could argue was a deserved lead.
Lee Gregory, as industrious as ever, tried to produce an immediate reply with a snap shot on the turn 30 yards out, but Drench reacted well to save.
Not surprisingly, Aspin made changes at the interval, and his switch to a more attacking system paid off straight after the break when Gardner’s superb flick released Scott McManus down the left and his delightful cross was tapped in by Gregory for his 20th of the season too.
The alteration to 4-4-2 was the catalyst for a much-improved Town performance as Gardner embarked on a marauding run down the left flank before his cross eventually fell to substitute Adriano Moke, but his shot went over.
An energetic cameo from fellow sub Alex Johnson also contributed to a more lively display by the hosts as they offered a far greater threat going forward.
A rare mistake from Gardner then nearly undid all of Town’s hard work when he gifted the ball to James Walshaw, but his shot was straight at Glennon.
The real Gardner then returned moments later when his free-kick found McManus at the back post, but his header went narrowly over.
McManus then blocked Walshaw’s low shot just in front of the line as the cagey affair of the first-half made way for a classic West Yorkshire derby full of action.
Danny Lowe was required to make a superbly-timed tackle on Walshaw just before the former Town striker was taken off as he bared down on goal as the game became increasingly stretched.
But a less congested middle third of the pitch didn’t lead to more chances being created as the game wore on, with a lull in proceedings perhaps inevitable after the blistering start to the second-half.
Wilson’s free kick whistled wide from 25 yards out to remind Town their play-off place wasn’t booked quite yet, but Johnson should have rubber-stamped it when Gregory’s tireless work rate saw him keep the ball in play before finding his strike partner inside the box, only for him to curl the ball over the bar.
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, McManus, Jackson (Moke 46), Pearson, Lowe, Worsley, Knowles (A Johnson 46), Williams (Seddon 83), Gardner, Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Glover.
Scorers: Gregory (47)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 7
Guiseley: Drench, Hardy, Meynell, Rea, Ellis, Matt Wilson, Carole (Mullen 73), Holdsworth, Josh Wilson, Walshaw (Marsh 68), Rothery (McWilliams 68). Subs not used: Bower, Giles.
Scorers: Josh Wilson (38)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Man of the match: Danny Lowe