Lois Maynard’s second goal in four days moved FC Halifax Town up to third in the Skrill Premier with a 1-0 win at Grimsby.
This astonishing season just keeps getting better for the Shaymen as they produced a magnificent defensive display to record another outstanding away win after their 4-0 thrashing of Barnet.
If Town fans thought their season couldn’t scale new heights after that result against the Bees, they were proved wrong as Halifax made it 11 hours without conceding a goal.
The part-timers are looking every bit as worthy of a play-off place as the big boys in the top five, having now completed a double over Barnet and Grimsby, both of whom must have a budget to dwarf that at Neil Aspin’s disposal.
But the Mariners had no answer to Town’s resolute defence as the visitors opened up a four-point cushion ahead of sixth-placed Braintree.
It was little surprise there wasn’t much to separate the two sides early on given the hosts were fourth in the form table and Town were third.
Grimsby certainly offered a sterner test than Barnet had three days previously, with the hosts’ defence putting up much more resistance.
But Grimsby didn’t get much joy themselves until Marc Roberts’ hesitancy let in Oumare Tounkara, but Matt Glennon saved brilliantly one-on-one.
That sparked a flurry of chances as Scott McManus and Scott Spencer struck from outside the box.
The home crowd had been fairly muted until Tounkara’s chance, but that stoked the atmosphere, as did challenges by Chris Smith and Matt Pearson that earned both a booking.
But more often than not, both sides struggled to assert themselves more than the other, with the hosts especially forced into foisting it long by a hard-working Town midfield.
The pace of Tounkara looked to have Roberts and Smith worried, with he and Andy Cook offering a very physical combination.
But the Shaymen reached a remarkable 10 hours wince last conceding a goal fairly comfortably.
The contest continued to be peppered with yellow cards, with Grimsby’s first preceded by a delightful Paul Marshall free-kick that was cleared by Shaun Pearson yards in front of his own goal.
Neil Aspin will surely have been expecting a more thorough examination of his side’s play-off credentials than they got at Barnet, and that was certainly the case.
The first-half could be summed up by the duel between Lee Gregory and Shaun Pearson, with the pair fighting tooth and nail for every high ball.
The Town striker could perhaps feel aggrieved that Pearson wasn’t one of the five players booked in the first-half after some unnecessary pushing and shoving along the way.
Town just lacked some composure in the final third to build on their solid defensive display, but suddenly produced easily the best move of the game to take the lead.
Matt Pearson’s incisive pass released Maynard on the edge of the box before the midfielder, who looked to be losing his balance, produced a glorious curling shot into the far corner.
Cue delirium from the 480 visiting supporters and a collective huddle from the Town players.
Grimsby hardly looked like a side able to break down a defence more than halfway to their seventh consecutive clean sheet.
The Mariners had only failed to score twice at home in the league all season but seemed to lack the imagination that Halifax had shown so thrillingly to score themselves.
While this wasn’t the stylish performance that had swept aside Barnet, there was a steely determination about the Shaymen that was just as commendable.
Halifax came mightily close to doubling their lead when Gregory, for the umpteenth time of the evening, showed outstanding persistence to hold the ball up before playing in McManus, whose low drive flashed inches wide.
Smith and Roberts only grew in confidence as the game went on with a series of excellent interceptions as Grimsby struggled to even muster a shot at Town’s goal.
But understandably, the Town fans were reluctant to hand the ball back to James McKeown after Marshall’s shot off target with 10 minutes left, forcing the keeper to jump into the stand at retrieve it himself.
But, if anything, Grimsby showed too much urgency and often rushed their attempted attacks, with Halifax displaying far more composure and confidence in possession.
Former Town striker Ross Hannah had been introduced by Rob Hurst, but to no avail as Town’s performance got better the more clock edged towards 90 minutes.
But fellow substitute Paddy McLaughlin whistled a shot just wide to in the last minute of normal time to precede a nail-biting four minutes of stoppage time.
Grimsby: McKeown, Hatton, Pearson, Boyce, Thomas, Colbeck (McLaughlin 70), Disley, Kerr (Thanoj 82), Neilson, Cook, Tounkara (Hannah 70). Subs not used: McDonald, Fyfield.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 7
Halifax: Glennon, Bolton, Roberts, C Smith, Lowe, Spencer (Crowther 74), Maynard, Marshall, Pearson, McManus, Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, A Smith, Ainge, Wilson.
Scorer: Maynard (52)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 6
Town man of the match: Marc Roberts