Connor Hughes scored in the third minute of added time to hand FC Halifax Town a crucial win in their battle for survival as they beat Boreham Wood 3-2 at The Shay.
Things were looking rosy at half-time as Town led 2-0 but a second-half fightback looked to have squandered two precious points, a scenario that was unthinkable after the home side’s dominance before the interval.
But a dramatic last-ditch thunderbolt by Hughes earned Town what could be a pivotal victory in the most incredible of circumstances.
You could throw a blanket over the six teams arguably vying to stay out of the two remaining relegation spots, with Town currently occupying 20th place, two points above Boreham Wood and with two games in hand.
Jim Harvey said he would take a defeat at Dover if it meant a win here, and the Town manager got his wish. Just.
First-half goals from Jordan Burrow and James Bolton put Town in charge before Harry White got a goal back after half-time and Jamie Lucas completed the comeback with seven minutes remaining.
But just as Town seemed down and out, Hughes struck to lift the roof and lift Town out of the bottom four; what a difference a goal makes.
It’s now just one defeat in 15 home games for Town; if anything will keep their heads above relegation water, it’s form like that.
Neither side were cautious from the start, with Boreham Wood playing two up front and Town lining up with a front three of Josh Macdonald, Jordan Burrow and Richard Peniket.
But the opening to the game was more Altrincham at home than Dover away, with both teams struggling to break through the other.
Nicky Wroe was effectively the extra man in midfield for the hosts, and the Town skipper made a good start, finding space on the ball and tackling tigerishly to win it back.
His fine pass played in Josh Macdonald on the right, although his two crosses in quick succession came to nothing, with one cleared and the other seeing Kingsley James’ shot blocked.
Another Macdonald cross after a superb run caused panic in the Boreham Wood defence after keeper James Russell spilled it.
But it was a dinked cross from Peniket, looking much more like his old-self, on the other flank that led to Town’s opener, which Burrow bundled over the line, and charged into the far post as a result.
The Town striker, who scored for Halifax in their 3-1 defeat at Boreham Wood on the opening day of the season, won’t have minded the bruises to net his first league goal since November 28.
Five minutes later it got even better when James Bolton rose majestically to head in Scott McManus’ corner, although the net had been left unguarded due to Russell’s rash decision to come for the cross.
Town had established a two-goal lead for the first time since winning at Nantwich on March 12, and it was enough to convince Boreham Wood boss Luke Garrard into a substitution after half-an-hour, despite White curling a superb shot just wide of the post; and who better to bring on than Delano Sam-Yorke, who scored twice for Cambridge against The Shaymen in the first and last game of the 2013-14 season.
Not that it made much difference, as Burrow and James both had half-chances and the visitors were forced into some fairly desperate defending.
The confidence was flowing through the veins of the Town players now as even the defenders turned on the style, with Kevin Roberts jinking past an opponent before forcing Russell into a fine low save, then Bolton produced an excellent chest down and volley that Russell turned away; It was relentless.
Peniket then fired the ball just over from 12 yards as half-time approached; Town must have never wanted it to come.
Boreham Wood’s coach was late arriving at Chester on Saturday; the visitors must have wished they’d turned round at Ainley Top at this rate.
The pace was less frenetic after the restart, despite Jake Hibbs testing Russell’s reflexes with a rasping shot from the edge of the box at the start of the second-half.
There was certainly less urgency in Halifax’s play, and much more in Boreham Wood’s, and they halved the deficit when Dan Woodards’ fine cross from the left was met with a bullet header by White.
Town’s reaction to that goal was positive though, as Hughes and Jordan Burrow, twice, spurned very good chances to re-establish a two-goal cushion.
The hosts’ instinct was to protect their lead, and they sat deeper as the second-half went on, which only served to heighten the tension among the home supporters.
The lead was only just preserved when Sam Johnson parried Sam-Yorke’s long-range shot and Bolton put his body on the line to see off the danger from the rebound.
That was a warning though as Halifax lost possession cheaply at one end and were punished at the other as a quick break culminated in Lucas sweeping the ball past Johnson left-footed.
Then with almost the last kick of the game, Hughes rocket of a shot fired Town back in the lead through a packed penalty box.
Halifax: Johnson, Bolton, Bencherif, Roberts, McManus, Wroe, James, Hibbs, J Macdonald (Hughes 57), Peniket (S McDonald 76). Subs not used: Porter, Fairhurst, Fazlic.
Scorers: Burrow (20), Bolton (24), Hughes (90)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 5
Boreham Wood: Russell, Nunn, Doe, Reynolds, Woodards, Shakes, Clifford, Kamdjo, Haynes (Sam-Yorke 29), Lucas (Howell 89), White. Subs not used: Cox, Stephens, Devera.
Scorers: White (57), Lucas (83)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 3
Town man of the match: James Bolton