FC Halifax Town won for the first time in 13 games as they battled to a terrific 1-0 victory at Aldershot.
On the face of it, a win at Aldershot seemed as unlikely as their last away win at Leyton Orient was three months ago.
But Scott McManus put Town ahead five minutes before the break to give Halifax a half-time lead for the first time since that win at Orient.
And The Shaymen held on for a precious three points - their first since September 23 - and for only their second clean sheet in 11 games.
The Town players were nearly dragging themselves around the pitch come full-time, but held out for arguably their best result of the season so far.
Billy Heath’s team pretty much picked itself due to the litany of injuries in the Town squad, with new signing Michael Collins, formerly of Huddersfield, thrown straight into the starting line-up despite not playing since May 6.
Bobby-Joe Taylor caught the eye for Aldershot early on, curling a shot wide from the corner of the box before his dangerous cross was headed over by Bernard Mensah.
Town gave as good as they got though, with Danny Clarke’s effort saved by Lewis Ward before Connor Oliver’s low cross caused panic in the home defence.
Clarke’s cross then found Jake Hibbs for a free header, but it went straight at Ward from 10 yards out.
George Waring now has a fair idea what it’s like to be Tom Denton, with the lone striker man-handled every time he went for a high ball.
But he offered a decent physical presence up front, while Collins provided a calming influence in central midfield.
Aldershot had gone over seven hours of football without conceding a goal, but finally did in embarrassing circumstances when keeper Lewis Ward missed his kick trying to clear Oliver’s through ball, allowing McManus a tap-in to an empty net.
Maybe Billy’s luck was finally turning. It was certainly a welcome early Christmas present.
Town had ceded territory in the opening half, understandably so against the joint-highest scorers in the division, but it hadn’t been a backs-to-the-wall job.
Aldershot possessed plenty of pace and played some nice football, but Sam Johnson hadn’t had a save to make in the first 45, testament to a solid defensive display.
Town were pressed back from the start of the second-half by an Aldershot side with more urgency to their play.
Johnson was finally called into action to save Jim Kellerman’s effort 10 minutes after the restart.
Heath yelled at his players to keep working, and they did, with Jake Hibbs especially putting in a terrific shift.
Cliff Moyo was excellent at right-back, while Scott Garner and Matty Brown were back to their best.
It was gradually becoming a textbook away performance, with Town sitting deep and being hard to break down, underpinned by a superb work ethic.
Mensah’s not-so-subtle attempt at winning a penalty by running into Clarke was an indication of Aldershot beginning to run out of ideas.
However, Johnson’s booking for time-wasting in the 80th minute emphasised Town’s increasing desperation to cling on to their slender lead; it was a backs-to-the-wall job now, but they held on.
Aldershot: Ward, Reynolds, Evans, Alexander (Lyons-Foster 77), Kellerman, Fowler (Oyeleke 56), McDonnell, Rowe, Mensah, Taylor, Fenelon (Gallagher 61). Subs not used: Skinner.
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 6
Halifax: Johnson, Moyo, Brown, Garner, Wilde, Clarke (Charles 75), Oliver (Middleton 90), Collins, Hibbs, McManus, Waring. Subs not used: Nicholson, Barrow, Morgan.
Scorer: McManus (39)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Referee: Thomas Bramall
Town man of the match: Matty Brown