FC Halifax Town suffered a nightmare before Christmas with a woeful performance as they salvaged a 1-1 draw at home to Telford thanks to Josh Wilde’s injury-time equaliser.
Substitute Joe Fitzpatrick’s stunning shot was unworthy of a dreary contest as Town drew against a team who looked there for the taking.
The performance was in the same worrying vein as displays against Curzon Ashton, Matlock and Harrogate at home, with none of the hallmarks of a typical Billy Heath side - pressing the opposition, quick tempo, lots of movement.
The most that could be said of the home side was they at least kept going until the end and rescued a point which seemed unlikely after Telford’s goal.
But The Shaymen looked short of confidence, short of ideas and a long way from the team that dispatched Dagenham at The Shay so convincingly just a month ago.
The ball was passed by both teams with all the care and attention of an unwanted Christmas present in a start to the game devoid of quality.
Aerial balls up to Tom Denton can be, and often has been, extremely effective, but that looked the only tactic from The Shaymen from the off, with the hosts lacking tempo and inventiveness, especially with the absence of creator-in-chief Jordan Sinnott.
Telford worked hard but looked limited going forward. It was little surprise that Telford’s starting 11 had only nine goals between them this season, or that Josh Wilson was their top-scorer with four.
Alex Simmons’ shot straight at James Montgomery from the edge of the box was the sole effort in a drab opening 20 minutes, which was only enlivened when a melee ensued after Ben O’Hanlon’s crude tackle on Steve Drench, followed by an aggressive shove on Matty Kosylo by Bradley Reid.
By the half-hour mark, it hadn’t got much better; Halifax’s off-key start was summed up by a corner that was taken short midway through the first-half, when the subsequent cross didn’t beat the first man.
Set-pieces might have been Town’s fall-back option as a route to goal with so few chances coming from open play, but free-kicks and corners were bearing no fruit either, with deliveries either badly under or over-hit.
The contest looked like it was being played by one team without a win in five and another with one away league win all season.
Matty Kosylo looked Town’s liveliest player, although that wasn’t saying much, but saw far too little of the ball, while full-backs Josh Wilde and Kevin Roberts also got few chances to foray into the final third, with Town rarely stringing a move together with more than five passes.
Telford came into the game on the back of their biggest defeat of the season - a 4-0 loss to Kidderminster - but got to half-time at 0-0 far too comfortably here.
When the ball did fall to Denton in the box from Kosylo’s cross shortly after the break, the striker got the ball caught under his feet and the chance went.
There had been no improvement by the time Heath’s sole attacking substitute, Josh Macdonald, came off the bench after 64 minutes, with both goalkeepers redundant enough to have taken part in a mannequin challenge.
Montgomery was eventually, finally, called into action again when he easily saved Kosylo’s shot with 20 minutes left, before the keeper rushed off his line brilliantly to stop another low effort from Kosylo soon afterwards after Danny Clarke sent him clean through.
But Town didn’t build on that slither of momentum, with Kevin Roberts nearly clearing the South Stand with a 30-yard shot on 80 minutes; the groans that followed from the crowd said it all.
Drench made his first save of the game after 82 minutes when he tipped over Josh Wilson’s deflected effort, but the Town keeper could do nothing but watch as Fitzpatrick’s exquisite shot arrowed into the top corner after Denton headed the resulting corner out to him.
Just as a small section of Town fans in the South Stand were chanting “Heath out”, Wilde salvaged a point when he tucked away the rebound after David Lynch’s shot was saved on the line.
But that will not paper over the gaping cracks that currently beset this Town team.
Halifax: Drench, Roberts, Garner, Hotte, Wilde, Kosylo, Lynch, Hibbs, Clarke, Simmons (Macdonald 64), Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Moyo, King, Hone.
Scorer: Wilde (90)
Shots on target: 5
Shots off target: 3
Telford: Montgomery, Samuels, Havern, Bailey, O’Hanlon, Rea, Royle (Fitzpatrick 57), Kissock, Reid (Hibbert 69), Hodge (McCarthy 76), Wilson. Subs not used: Reynolds, Cowan.
Scorer: Fitzpatrick (83)
Shots on target: 1
Shots off target: 0
Town man of the match: Matty Kosylo
Referee: Paul Brown