Halifax boss Billy Heath said the character of his team got them over the line after they beat Chorley 2-1 in the National League North play-off final at The Shay.
The Shaymen sealed promotion back to the Conference Premier thanks to Scott Garner’s extra-time winner, after goals from Town’s Kevin Roberts and Chorley’s Adam Blakeman in normal time.
Heath felt his team improved as the game went on, and that the mental strength of his team shone through when it was needed the most.
“I think it was a typical final. It was better than last year’s but we never got going first-half,” Heath said.
“It was difficult because we lost Josh Wilde early and had to change the system, which never helps.
“I said at half-time to the boys ‘we look tentative, we have to get on the front foot and be ourselves a bit more’ because we don’t let teams come on to us like we were.
“I thought we were a lot better second-half. I was disappointed with their goal because I don’t know if it was a free-kick, I might be wrong.
“Then it’s on a knife edge and you’re thinking it could easily go either way, but this is why it’s important you get the right people into the club.
“People think this game is about football. No, it’s not. You have to have a mixture of everything, people who can play, people who are resilient, people who have strong minds, and the game was more about strong minds.
“I thought the people that came off the bench were magnificent - Cliff Moyo and Danny Clarke.
I’m just so pleased for the squad because they’re a great group of players. They’ve got great character.”
Heath confirmed striker Richard Peniket sustained an ankle injury that meant Town effectively played the whole of extra-time with 10 men
On Garner’s winning goal, Heath said: “Unbelievable. Fantastic. I ran very quick I thought, I was quick off the mark and got about 40 yards down the touchline!”
The Town boss admitted it was backs-to-the-wall stuff as the clock ticked down.
“The worst period of the game for me was the last five minutes because all formations and shape goes out of the window and it’s just two lines trying to head it,” Heath said.
“I thought we coped with that fantastically. It’s not many a game you see their goalkeeper scissor-kicking it in the six-yard box.
“When he did that I thought ‘oh no’. But I thought Chorley played a great part in it. Matt Jansen (Chorley boss) deserves a lot of credit because he’s done a wonderful job there and I like him a lot.
“But I’m just so pleased not to be in this division next season.”
On the atmosphere generated by nearly 8,000 fans inside The Shay, Heath added: “It was absolutely unbelievable, and they were tremendous. When we had low periods in the game, they were magnificent, so vocal and so encouraging to the players.
“I even said to the players at half-time ‘let’s embrace this’.
“We were on the back foot and we were tentative. My teams are never tentative.
“I said ‘give the crowd something to get their teeth into’.
“I don’t think the occasion particularly got to them but they’re human beings. They understand what was there for them, what it means to the club.”