FC Halifax Town 1-2 Chesterfield: Shaymen's play-off hopes ended after final day defeat
FC Halifax Town's play-off hopes were ended after they lost 2-1 to Chesterfield at The Shay.
With their fate on a knife-edge and the game in the balance at 1-1, it swung Chesterfield's way as substitute Nathan Tyson scored the winner.
Darren Stephenson had equalised for Town after Liam Mandeville's opener for the visitors.
Town fans were back at The Shay for the first time in 14 months, but didn't get the perfect day they hoped for, with their side giving it everything but ultimately coming up just a little short.
Town started positively, with Jeff King full of energy and effort down the left.
The Shaymen got into some good crossing positions but were let down by their final delivery.
And after the first spell of Chesterfield pressure, a long throw by George Carline wasn't cleared and was bundled in at the far post by Mandeville.
Town now had it all to do. Chesterfield looked calm and composed, aided by their goal, and knew they could take the sting out of the game, not having to chase a goal.
Halifax needed the likes of King and Luke Summerfield to be tigerish in midfield, unsettle the Spireties and rouse the fans, who were a bit deflated by the goal.
It didn't help that Halifax's set-pieces were poor and came to nothing, further disrupting Town's flow.
Frustration started to creep in by the half-hour mark as the odd pass went astray and Halifax struggled to put much pressure on the visitors.
That soon changed though when Stephenson took advantage of a slip by Manny Oyeleke to score his first Town goal with a left footed drive into the near corner in front of the empty North Stand.
The goal was met with a roar 14 months in the making.
Town had a penalty appeal turned down after claims that Jack Senior's low cross hit a Chesterfield arm, with The Shaymen looking lively. The momentum was with them.
Jake Hyde squandered a clear chance a few minutes before the break, skewing his shot wide from an angle having been played in by Martin Woods.
The Shaymen ended the opening half the stronger side, with King the talisman and were rightly applauded off at the interval.
It hadn't been perfect, some of the passing had been off and crossing wayward, but the effort and commitment from Halifax couldn't be faulted.
Chesterfield had the odd dangerous moment, with Carline slipping at the crucial moment from Joel Taylor's pass.
By half-time, Town needed just one goal to lift them into the play-offs.
More superb play by the inspired King helped win Town a corner shortly after the restart, from which Hyde's effort was saved by James Montgomery, another from Woods was cleared off the line by Oyeleke before a third was volleyed just over by Nathan Clarke.
Chesterfield responded though as Carline's effort from an angle was parried by Sam Johnson, before Laurence Maguire's header from a corner was also kept out by the Town keeper.
It was breathless stuff as Stephenson then brought a save from Montgomery, and a cross from the left was just out of substitute Tyson's reach, with both teams now slugging it out.
By the midway point of the second-half, both sides needed to win, with Bromley pushing Chesterfield out of the top seven.
The nerves inside the Shay were palpable.
Tyson's tame shot from a Chesterfield break was comfortably saved by Johnson, but it was a rare chance for either side after the earlier flurry.
Town still weren't helping themselves with some awful set-piece deliveries, and lacked a cutting edge to their promising build-up play.
It was winner-takes-all, and Tyson struck the killer blow ten minutes from the end when he tapped in Mandeville's cross, with referee Lewis Smith ignoring calls from Halifax players and fans that it was offside.
That punctured the atmosphere like a pin popping a balloon, with the supporters' frustrations directed towards Smith as other decisions went against Town, with the clock ticking.
The Shaymen never looked the same after Tyson's goal, which sapped them of their belief, knowing a two goal swing was just too much to ask.
Halifax: Johnson, Byrne, Clarke, Maher, Senior (Campbell 86), Summerfield, Woods, Green, Stephenson (Allen 65), King, Hyde. Subs not used: Davison-Hale, Spence, Bradbury.
Scorer: Stephenson (31)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 8
Chesterfield: Montgomery, Evans, Maguire, Gunning, Carline, Oyeleke, Weston, Taylor (Whittle 46), Clarke, Mandeville (McCourt 84), Rowe (Tyson 36). Subs not used: Whelan, Yussuf.
Scorers: Mandeville (14), Tyson (79)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 2
Referee: Lewis Smith
Town man of the match: Jeff King. Some strong performances throughout the side, but King was the stand out, full of enthusiasm, skill and commitment.