FC Halifax Town kept just their third clean sheet of the season away from home as they played out a scrappy goalless draw with Wrexham.
Brett Ormerod’s red-card on the verge of half-time was the sole flashpoint in a fairly incident-free encounter which was in stark contrast to their previous meeting, a 3-2 Town win, at the Shay in August.
But the Shaymen looked a far more durable outfit than they had at Tamworth a week ago as they left Wrexham frustrated, although Town may feel a chance of three points had slipped by after playing the whole of the second-half with a man extra.
However, neither side ever offered enough of a threat to suggest, or perhaps deserve, a breakthrough.
Jon Challinor came straight into the starting 11 for Town in place of Paul Marshall, while Kevin Holsgrove was a surprise starter in place of Reece Gray.
For Town to go into this game seven points and eight places above their hosts emphasises just how successful their first half to the season has been, and it wasn’t immediately obvious whether that gap would be bigger or smaller come full-time.
Wrexham attacked at pace but with little composure early on, while Town offered their own threat on the break, but often lacked a final killer pass near thw Wrexham box.
Chances were sporadic in the opening half, with Rob Ogleby’s weak shot dribbling slowly towards Matt Glennon after Challinor had deflected Brett Ormerod’s goalbound effort behind.
Holsgrove had Town’s best chance in the early exchanges but his low shot from a tight angle was as poorly struck as Ogleby’s and rolled straight to Andy Coughlin.
The Wrexham keeper had to be alert to palm away Adam Smith’s wayward cross as it threatened to sneak in; one of a frustrating number of crosses that failed to fall in Lee Gregory’s vicinity.
Town’s top-scorer displayed his customary hard-work against a bruising centre-back pairing, while Marc Roberts was again just as effective at the other end, offering a calming presence and maintaining an invaluable ability to be in the right place at the right time.
Challinor also impressed alongside him at right-back but the Town defence’s workload only decreased as the first-half wore on, seemingly without incident.
But play was suddenly stopped with Town on the attack moments before the whistle as referee Martin Coy consulted his assistant before dismissing Brett Ormerod for kicking Roberts off the ball, with the hosts aggrieved at an apparent elbow by the defender.
Whatever the rights or wrongs, the Welsh side were a man light against Town again after Stephen Wright’s red card at the Shay back in August.
Wrexham’s propensity to give the ball away during a poor first-half showed no sign of changing in the second, although the home supporters’ ire was now being directed more at the referee than their team.
The officials were on Wrexham’s side when Roberts’ bullet header from Josh Wilson’s free-kick was ruled out for offside, but every decision against the hosts was greeted by a chorus of indignation from the stands.
Substitute Andy Bishop headed wide with his first touch while Roberts spurned an even better chance soon after when he headed straight at Coughlin from Smith’s superb cross.
Opportunities were still coming in dribs and drabs but the Wrexham crowd were grdually quietened as Town enjoyed far more time on the ball without really forcing Coughlin into a save until Lois Maynard’s long-range shot flew straight at him.
Neil Aspin’s reaction to a wayward pass by Matt Pearson suggested Town certainly weren’t settling for a point as the clock ticked down.
But his side still couldn’t muster that one clear chance, with Maynard off-target with a flick header from Wilson’s cross.
The fact that the draw may be tinged with frustration is another example of how far Town have come this season, but a draw represented a good afternoon’s work even if it meant they fell out of the play-off places.
Wrexham: Coughlin, Ashton, Artell, Carrington, Hunt, Ormerod, Clarke, Harris, Tomassen, Anyinsah (Bishop 66), Ogleby (Bailey-Jones 74). Subs not used: Mayebi, Evans, Parle.
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 3
Halifax: Glennon, Maynard, Ainge, Roberts, McManus, Smith (McReady 81), Pearson, Challinor, Wilson, Holsgrove (Gray 64), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, Worthington, Marshall.
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 2
Town man of the match: Marc Roberts