FC Halifax Town boss Neil Aspin admitted he felt the outcome was in the balance before Jamie Jackson’s late winner in the 1-0 victory over Braintree at the Shay.
Town left it late to see off the Essex side, with Jack Muldoon seeing an effort chalked off for offside shortly before Jackson’s header.
Aspin was impressed by the visitors, who had decent chances to score before Jackson’s winner.
“I thought the full-backs did a good job for Braintree, the centre-halves competed well,” said the Town boss.
“They defended well, they were well organised, they had a good line so chances were at a premium.
“I thought second-half they caused us a few more problems. Matt Glennon’s had to make some saves.
“In the first-half although we didn’t create much, attacking wise they were really non-existent so I thought they pushed more men forward in the second-half.
“The game got a bit more stretched as tends to happen, they looked lively in the second-half and looked dangerous.
“It could have gone either way in the second-half but fortunately we got the win.”
Aspin thought Town’s chance had gone when Muldoon’s effort was disallowed.
He said: “I was always hopeful but you’d be lying if you said you expected a goal in the 91st minute or whatever.
“Especially against Braintree because we hadn’t scored against them.
“Once you get the goal and it’s disallowed I thought that was our chance gone.
“I thought that was going to be our goal against Braintree but we got it and it’s all about picking up the three points.”
The Shay boss said he was hopeful his side would make a breakthrough, but admitted the state of the pitch played it’s part in the match.
“In most games at home we’ve managed to score. You’ve got to keep plugging away,” said Aspin.
“There’s always chances in a game and you’re hopeful you can get one at the end.
“When it comes off a late winner feels better than when you just win normally.
“It is difficult to get any quality. If you got a ball out and went onto the pitch to pass it about, it’s really difficult.
“You can’t take your eyes off it because as soon as you do you lose your footing or the ball bobbles.
“But we got a bit of quality with a great cross and a lovely header for the finish.
“I’m not making excuses but it is difficult to get any fluency because it’s such a difficult surface.”
Neither Ross Killock or Scott Boden were named in the match-day squad, and Aspin admitted the decision wasn’t easy on those left out.
“It’s not nice for any player if they’re not involved,” he said.
“I’m not daft. I wouldn’t be happy if I wasn’t involved when I was playing and I wouldn’t expect that.
“But I have to do what I think is best and pick a team to win matches which is what I always do.”
The game was preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Debbie Charlton, and Aspin said the death of Town’s director of business development was a shock.
He added: “It’s always tragic when somebody loses a life at a young age and in tragic circumstances.
“It gives everybody a jolt. You tend to look at your own life and reflect on a lot of things and realise football isn’t as important.
“I can remember getting the news and it does give you a shock.
“At six o’clock last week I spoke to Debbie as she was leaving the ground and you just don’t expect something like that to happen.
“I feel particularly sorry for her parents. It must be absolutely terrible to lose one of your children.
“I offer my sympathies. Life does move but hopefully she’ll not be forgotten and hopefully we can do our work which is all we can do by doing well on the pitch.”