Dayle Southwell scored his first goal in nearly two months as FC Halifax Town drew 1-1 with Boreham Wood at The Shay.
It said much about the standard of opposition awaiting Town over their next five games that this looked the most winnable, despite Boreham Wood being last year’s beaten play-off finalists.
But Halifax, unchanged from Saturday, rose to the challenge with a good display, and would have won had they taken their chances.
Boreham Wood beat the leaders in their last league game, but were second best here.
The performance is another encouraging sign for Town after Saturday’s win at Barrow and the draw at Dagenham.
The statistics of the side with the second best defensive home record against the side with the second lowest away goals tally meant nothing when Justin Shaibu headed in Gozie Ugwu’s right-wing cross in the third minute.
The manner and timing of the goal will both have been disappointing for The Shaymen, with a cross not prevented or dealt with, and coming so early in the game.
But by half-time, Halifax should have been ahead.
Southwell went agonisingly close to equalising 15 minutes later but his shot was cleared off the line after Boreham Wood keeper Ryan Huddart had spilled Jordan Preston’s cross.
New signing James Ferry was a composed presence in midfield, finding time and space on the ball and possessing decent quality on it.
Boreham Wood had offered nothing since their goal other than a shot from range from Connor Smith that drifted high and wide, while Town got better as the half went on after a sluggish start.
The Shaymen showed a willingness to work hard off the ball to try and regain it, but were disjointed in attack at times, and it took until eight minutes before the break for Town’s next opportunity, but Southwell’s tame header from Jacob Hanson’s cross was easily saved.
Manny Parry could have made it a long way back for Town had his low shot across goal from a corner rolled the other side of the post four minutes before half-time.
But Southwell struck for the first time since the 2-0 win over Warrington on October 23 to bring Town level when he fired low across goal after Sanmi Odelusi’s shot had been blocked.
Southwell could have had a hat-trick by the interval arrived when he was played through one-on-one by the impressive Mekhi McLeod’s excellent dinked pass, but Huddart saved his shot.
Half-time probably came at the wrong time for Town, but they continued to offer a threat as McLeod’s low shot just after the break was saved by Huddart before a flowing move saw McLeod find Southwell before Preston let fly from 20 yards, with his shot flashing just wide of the post.
Boreham Wood continued to offer little or no threat, and there was a sense that the win was attainable for Town if they could display enough composure and the right decision-making in the final third.
Preston’s cross after a lung-busting run down the left was just over the head of the onrushing Southwell with 15 minutes remaining, before the lively McLeod’s rasping angled drive was parried away by Huddart.
Gozie Ugwu forced Sam Johnson into a save with a long-range shot in stoppage time, but a late sucker-punch would have been very harsh on the hosts.
Halifax: Johnson, Hanson, Clarke, Brown, Sellers, Ferry, Maher, Odelusi (Tomlinson 69), McLeod, Preston, Southwell. Subs not used: Rowley, Duckworth, Edwards.
Scorer: Southwell (43)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 1
Boreham Wood: Huddart, Ilesanmi, Ricketts, Parry, Stephens, Shakes, Champion, Murtagh (Fyfield 87), Ugwu, Smith (Thomas 64), Shaibu. Subs not used: Burbidge, Ash, Ndlaye.
Scorer: Shaibu (3)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 4
Referee: Simon Mather
Town man of the match: Mekhi McLeod