Chesterfield 1-1 FC Halifax Town: Shaymen pegged back by late equaliser
FC Halifax Town drew 1-1 at Chesterfield to end the year level on points with the National League leaders.
Matty Warburton's goal had Halifax within five minutes of ending 2021 top of the table, but Chesterfield got a deserved equaliser through substitute Jack Clarke.
The point is another bit of evidence demonstrating Halifax are serious promotion contenders though, and that they can go toe-to-toe with the best sides in the division.
To end the year level on points with the team in first is a magnificent achievement, and testament to the work being done at The Shay by Pete Wild and his team.
Let's see what 2022 brings.
A rather tepid start to the game burst into life after 18 minutes when Warburton's scorching shot arrowed across goal into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Up until then, it had been mainly a midfield battle, with Chesterfield getting into some decent areas out wide but neither attack looking particularly threatening, and both giving the ball away cheaply.
However, it was job done from Town, who settled into the game and supressed any hopes the hosts had of a fast start, with front-two Akwasi Asante, making his first start in eight months, and dangerman Kabongo Tshimanga kept quiet.
Wing-backs Tyrone Williams and Calvin Miller were penetrating down the flanks, but the hosts lacked a cutting edge elsewhere.
The Shaymen were frustrating the home side, and their large crowd, working hard off the ball, doing their jobs, and had the confidence to play out from the back.
Halifax looked a threat on the break too, with the ever-industrious Billy Waters firing over after Jordan Slew had been fouled but play continued.
Town were assertive and aggressive, pressing strongly and tackling well, giving little away, while Chesterfield were flat and subdued.
The Spireites hadn't played since December 11 and looked rusty.
Top-scorer Tshimanga's first sight of goal arrived in the 38th minute, when his shot from near the penalty spot took a slight deflection on its way to Sam Johnson.
Chesterfield were seeing more of the ball, but The Shaymen were back to the defensive solidity and rigidity that has characterised much of their season, rather than the porousness of Park Avenue.
Fraser Kerr headed a late first-half corner over from the corner of the six-yard box, but by then, the home crowd had begun to vent their frustrations, partly at the referee for the free-kicks he awarded to Halifax, but also to their team's lack of incision and intensity.
Warburton had supplemented his goal with non-stop running, repeatedly nicking the ball off hesitant Chesterfield midfielders and prompting counter-attacks that never materialised, while the improving Tyrell Warren again defended with maturity at right-back.
If anything the home side got worse after the interval, with some sloppy passes and loose touches, in stark contrast to the smoother, more fluid play from Town.
The home side and their supporters continued to make their frustrations clear towards referee Garreth Rhodes, none of which was helping their cause; the Spireites had more possession but were failing to create anything, relying heavily on long crossfield passes that got them nowhere.
The hosts finally started to build some momentum midway through the second-half, forcing corners and requiring Town to produce some desperate defending.
It looked like the hosts' best spell of the game would be rewarded with a penalty for handball, but the decision was overturned after a minute or so of madness and confusion, turning Chesterfield's temperature up to boiling point.
The pattern of the game was now entrenched - Chesterfield pouring forward, Halifax pinned back.
Eventually, Town buckled under the pressure as substitute Clarke buried a loose ball in the box from six yards, cueing an eruption of noise from the home fans.
Chesterfield: Loach, Miller, Gunning, Williams, Kerr (Clarke 79), Oyeleke, Weston (Mandeville 46), Kellerman, Whittle, Asante (Khan 60), Tshimanga. Subs not used: Grimes, Payne.
Scorer: Clarke (85)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 5
Halifax: Johnson, Warren, Maher, Bradbury, Senior, Green, Spence (Summerfield 75), Gilmour, Warburton (Woods 75), Slew, Waters. Subs not used: Debrah, Stenson, Vale
Scorer: Warburton (18)
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 2
Attendance: 8,106 (779 away)
Referee: Garreth Rhodes
Town man of the match: Tyrell Warren, defended superbly at right-back with composure and commitment.