FC Halifax Town got back to winning ways with a 3-1 win at Bradford Park Avenue as both sides had a goalscorer sent-off.
The game came to life after the interval following a forgettable first-half, with Oli Johnson putting Avenue ahead before he was dismissed for a second booking.
Town then fought back through Richard Peniket, substitute Tom Denton and Matty Kosylo, while Peniket was also sent-off for elbowing ex-Town man Ryan Toulson.
It was debatable who this game mattered to more, with a defeat potentially meaning Town dropped out of the top five or Avenue dropped back into the drop zone.
That was reflected in the competitiveness of the game, with a few strong tackles flying in, but neither team hit the heights they’ll need to achieve their respective ambitions.
Billy Heath picked an attacking enough team, with only David Lynch of a defensive mindset in the front six. But it didn’t translate itself into a well oiled, attacking unit. Instead, the disjointed, fragmented Halifax attack of recent weeks, barring the first-half at Alfreton on Tuesday, was still on show, creating few good chances and not really looking likely to.
They improved drastically after the restart though, and played with more tempo and aggressiveness going forward, and eventually had too much in their armoury for AVenue to contain.
Oli Johnson should have put Avenue ahead after seven minutes when he shrugged off Scott Garner to reach a flick on, but chipped the ball over the bar when clean through.
Johnson then saw a shot saved by namesake Sam from inside the area, with the striker’s pace and sheer physical presence seeming to unsettle Garner and Matty Brown.
While Avenue’s attacking approach was more direct and quicker, Town got bogged down by dribbling into defenders or attempting link-up play too intricate to break Avenue down.
Adam Morgan and Richard Peniket returned to the starting line-up for Town, but found little joy as the first-half progressed, with Avenue doing an effective job of restricting the likes of Morgan and Jordan Sinnott’s time and space on the ball. Morgan was taken off after 50 minutes, presumably still not fully fit qafter his back spasm last weekend.
Avenue looked half-a-yard quicker and hungrier than Town, whose first effort from Jordan Sinnott after half-an-hour appropriately marked four hours since their last goal, as his shot ballooned high and wide from the corner of the box.
The game, like the pitch, was deteriorating as the opening half wore on. Neither team had the quality needed to create chances from open play, although Danny Boshell went very close to curling a 20-yard free kick past Sam Johnson.
A wayward long ball by Brown just before half-time provoked a few groans and jeers from the travelling Halifax fans, and seemed to sum up an opening half devoid of fast, attractive football from either team.
It was better from Halifax after the interval as they played with more urgency and more purpose to their attacks, and became the more dominant force.
Town finally had some momentum and looked a threat, but out of nowhere, Oli Johnson produced a delicate chip over the Town keeper from an acute angle to put the hosts ahead; on such moments entire seasons can rest.
Mark Bower turned away with a cklenched fist at Johnson’s goal, but Heath must again have been contemplating another one of those days and the prospect of arguably his worst week in charge of the club.
But after Tom Denton nodded down Josh Wilde’s cross, the ball eventually fell to Peniket, who turned before shooting low across goal with Halifax’s first shot on target and ending a run of just over four-and-a-half hours without finding the net.
Johnson was then sent-off when he was given a second booking for a foul on Brown, and it was as if Park Avenue’s goal hadn’t happened as Town flowed forward and looked a threat doing so, while Avenue looked deflated by Peniket’s goal.
The hosts were hanging on to their point, but from Brown’s deep cross, Denton got the slightest of touches to nod it past Jon Worsnop and complete the turnaround.
After Peniket was sent-off for elbowing Ryan Toulson, it was then sealed in the last minute when Kosylo ran clear inside the Avenue half before rounding Worsnop and rolling the ball into the empty net.
Bradford Park Avenue: Worsnop, Toulson, Killock, Knowles, Nowakowski, Brooksby, Wroe, Boshell, Rothery (Sharp 84), Chippendale, Johnson. Subs not used: Payne, Hall, Sinclair, Dean.
Scorer: Johnson (64)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 3
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Brown, Wilde, Kosylo, Sinnott, Lynch, Clarke (King 86), Peniket, Morgan (Denton 50). Subs not used: Drench, Moyo, Hotte.
Scorers: Peniket (70), Denton (85), Kosylo (90)
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 5
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo
Referee: Simeon Lucas