FC Halifax Town were held to a frustrating 1-1 draw by Hereford at the Shay.
Town showed far more attacking intent throughout the match but never quite hit the heights of their 4-0 mauling of Grimsby in midweek as Hereford dug in to end the game the happier of the two sides with the result.
The hosts grabbed an unexpected early lead through Richard Brodie but were pegged back through Sam Smith’s own goal.
To say these two clubs have history is an understatement, with most of Town’s heartbreak over the last 20 years coming at the hands of the Bulls.
The relationship between the two managers is a lot more cordial though after nine highly successful years together at Port Vale, with former boss John Rudge also in attendance.
Neil Aspin warned before the game that Hereford would be well organised, and so it proved as they did a far better job than Grimsby of keeping the hosts at bay.
Lee Gregory made his first appearance since the 1-0 win over Southport nearly four weeks ago, replacing Marcus Carver up front, while Lois Maynard came straight back into the side after his one-game ban.
Kevin Holsgrove and Josh Wilson, who were also available after suspension, were both left out of the starting 11, with the former on the bench and the latter not in the squad.
The script everyone expected would have been an early Town goal after their five home wins and Hereford losing their last three.
So the Shay was stunned into temporary silence when Richard Brodie swept Hereford ahead after just eight minutes, especially as the goal stemmed from a defensive error.
The Shaymen’s rearguard have been watertight of late, but Danny Lowe was caught on the ball by Jon Brown, whose composed cut back found Brodie perfectly placed to finish 10 yards out.
But if Hereford’s goal came via an unusual route, Town’s did not as Gardner, looking lively in a more unfamiliar role on the right of midfield, sent in a dangerous free-kick from near the left touchline that sneaked in past Evans with the help of Sam Smith’s header.
The equaliser was a matter of when not if as Town responded positively to their early setback, with Gardner’s low shot forcing Evans into a good save before Matt Pearson wasted a glorious chance when he headed over unmarked near the penalty spot from Gardner’s cross.
Hereford’s threat seemed to have begun and ended with Brodie’s goal as Town enjoyed far more possession, but the odd sloppy pass or lack of control meant they weren’t quite in the same scintillating form that saw off Grimsby so comprehensively as half-time approached.
Hereford’s approach didn’t help the tempo of the game either, with the Bulls beginning to indulge in some time-wasting as soon as they took the lead and at all too regular intervals afterwards.
They wasted no time in creating a clear chance to restore their lead two minutes after the interval, only for Brodie to prod wide at the far post after beating Ryan Toulson to the ball.
But Town replied in kind shortly afterwards when Scott McManus dug the ball out of his feet following a corner and dinked the ball goalwards before Evans stretched every sinue to tip the shot behind.
Matt Glennon then produced an equally-impressive save at the other end to tip Brown’s thunderous drive over the bar.
Chances became rarer as the game wore on, with Gregory eventually substituted after seeing little sight of goal, but Hereford came within inches of a late winner against the run of play when Smith got sight of goal after hesitancy in the Town midfield, but his shot across goal was brilliantly turned behind by Glennon.
Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, Ainge, Roberts, Lowe (McReady 46), Gardner (Holsgrove 64), Marshall, Maynard, Pearson, McManus, Gregory (Carver 73). Subs not used: Senior, Williams.
Scorers: Smith (og 31)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 3
Hereford: Evans, West (Odihambo 77), Graham, Leadbitter, Brown, McDonald, Brodie (Rankine 69), Smith (Walker 89), Green, James, Bush. Subs not used: Collins, Gwynne.
Scorers: Brodie (8)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: Simon Ainge