Marc Roberts was sent-off and Neil Aspin was sent to the stands as FC Halifax Town drew 2-2 with Wrexham on a dramatic night at the Shay.
Danny Schofield’s first Town goal and a Danny Hattersley effort were both cancelled out by Louis Moult as Town produced a much improved showing under extremely testing circumstances after Saturday’s loss to Altrincham.
Town had a handy knack of bouncing back from defeats last season, something they did eight times, and that resilience was displayed again here in abundance.
Whatever results Town go on to achieve this season, beating this Wrexham side would have been one of their finest given Halifax’s previous performance and the quality of the Welsh side’s squad.
But a controversial red card for Roberts was the turning point of an engrossing contest that was almost as exhausting to watch as to play in.
Neil Aspin certainly couldn’t be accused of inertia after that surprising defeat to Altrincham as midfield lynch-pins Lois Maynard and Matt Pearson were both named on the bench.
In Pearson’s place came Schofield, making his first start since the defeat at Forest Green nearly a month ago.
And what a decision that looked to be when he ran onto Scott Boden’s cushioned lay-off before striking confidently beyond goalkeeper Andy Coughlin, making his first appearance for more than a month.
Wrexham had made a worryingly composed start with top-scorer Moult’s header turned behind by Matt Glennon.
The visitors were certainly more adventurous than Altrincham had been, and their approach seemed to suit the Shaymen, who were given more time and space in the opposition half.
Someone had clearly moved that bus Altrincham had parked there.
Schofield seemed to enjoy his roving brief and dovetailed nicely with Danny Hattersley, with Town far more purposeful going forward than they were at the weekend.
Wrexham’s squad boasted an embarrassment of riches, with Dan Holman, who excelled for Braintree last season, only on the bench along with experienced striker Andy Bishop.
And their front three of Connor Jennings, Wes York and Moult weren’t bad either, but were kept relatively quiet by a Town defence back at their meanest.
But Moult’s snapshot after 20 minutes of almost uninterrupted inactivity for the striker served as a reminder of their potential threat.
Moments after Kevin Roberts was booked for an alleged foul on York, the visitors then felt aggrieved when a goal was chalked off for a foul inside the Town box.
In a busy spell for referee Simon Bennett, Wrexham were awarded a free-kick after Glennon picked up Simon Ainge’s back-pass.
But a cheer bigger than the one for Schofield’s goal greeted the set-piece as it flew through a crowded penalty area.
Another free-kick was then awarded for a debatable hand-ball against Adam Smith just outside the box as Wrexham had their most prolonged spell of pressure yet.
There was then a red card for the third game in a row between these two sides when Roberts was adjudged to have pulled back Moult, who went down under his challenge when about to run clear on goal.
Neil Aspin’s furious reaction also saw him sent to the stands.
in the chaos that followed, Scott McManus cleared a header off the line. If Town weren’t up against it before, they were now.
Especially when Moult dispatched a superb looping header over Glennon to make it a nightmarish few minutes.
In amongst all that, Hattersley had missed a great chance before Moult’s equaliser when Coughlin spilled Boden’s cross only to save his close-range shot.
But the striker was perfectly placed to turn in a delightful cross by Boden less than a minute after Moult’s goal.
You couldn’t take your eyes off it.
All of which only served to fire up the home supporters, who could barely contain their sense of injustice at the referee, who seemed to have lost control of proceedings completely by now.
It was classic backs-to-the-wall stuff, with Ainge throwing himself in front of a shot to block before Glennon saved from Moult.
Town now also looked more vulnerable from corners without the towering presence of Roberts; the clock couldn’t tick down fast enough.
While high balls were greeted with groans on Saturday, they now represented another attack survived as Town were pinned back towards their own goal.
Wrexham’s corner count was now reaching dizzying heights but still Town stood firm; Ainge reacting brilliantly to clear Elliott Durrell’s cross with the home defence stretched.
Peniket should have extended Town’s lead but hit the side-netting after Pearson’s excellent through ball.
Ainge then threw himself in front of another shot, but this time only diverted it straight to Bishop before Moult slotted past Glennon.
It was now a question of whether Town could hold on to what would be an extremely hard-fought point.
Jay Harris’s long-range shot whistled just wide in stoppage time as the whole of the Shay held it’s breath to see which side of the post it went.
Halifax: Glennon, K Roberts, M Roberts, Williams, McManus, Smith (Pearson 56), Schofield (Maynard 77), Marshall, Ainge, Boden (Peniket 70), Hattersley. Subs not used: Senior, Jackson.
Scorer: Schofield (6), Hattersley (61)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 4
Wrexham: Coughlin, Carrington, Hudson, Smith, Ashton, Harris, Clarke, Keates (Durrell 71), Jennings (Bishop 71), Moult, York. Subs not used: White, Hunt, Holman.
Scorer: Moult (60, 85)
Shots on target: 7
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: Scott McManus