FC Halifax Town 2-2 Nuneaton

Actions from the game, FC Halifax Town v Nuneaton at The Shay
Actions from the game, FC Halifax Town v Nuneaton at The Shay

FC Halifax Town preserved their unbeaten home start to the season as they were held 2-2 by Nuneaton after an incredible ending at the Shay.

Town must have thought they’d grabbed a dramatic late winner when Ryan Toulson drove home, but Nuneaton equalised straight from the restart through Wesley York.

The barely-believable climax was hardly in-keeping with a mostly forgettable encounter, as despite York’s opening goal coming after just five minutes, the game never really caught fire, with Town levelling through Dan Gardner’s fifth of the season before the interval.

The contest was in stark contrast to the enthralling match that preceded it at Luton, with the Shaymen failing to reproduce the same attacking verve they displayed at Kenilworth Road.

Neil Aspin opted for a diamond in midfield after being deprived of winger Adam Smith, who picked up a knock at Luton, as did Lee Gregory, who was replaced by Kevin Holsgrove, with Josh Wilson also starting up front and Matt Pearson replacing Lois Maynard.

Wilson almost made an instant impact with a free-kick inside the first two minutes which James Belshaw tipped round the post.

With that start and the visitors having lost three of their last four, Town fans could have been forgiven for thinking they were in for another relatively straightforward evening.

BUt Marc Roberts, in such towering form since his opening day nightmare at Cambridge, suddenly transformed back into the hesitant figure from the Abbey Stadium as he dallied on the ball near the goal-line, allowing Louis Moult to cut the ball back to York, who smashed home five minutes in.

The middle third was busier than the Calderdale Way at rush-hour as Town’s four-man diamond was up against Nuneaton’s midfield three, meaning the Shaymen found it difficult to settle into a rhythm as they sought a response.

A shot of ‘get us going’ to Gardner from stand-in skipper Matt Glennon indicated who Town were looking to for inspiration, but space was at a premium for the Town midfielder as he drifted left and right in search of the ball.

Nuneaton came close to doubling their lead after half-an-hour when Gareth Dean’s low shot was brilliantly tipped behind by Glennon after Ryan Toulson had provided a welcome bit of width, with Scott McManus heading his far post cross wide on the stretch.

Set-pieces had looked Town’s most effective route to goal, with neither side creating much from open-play, and Glennon’s cry was answered shortly before the interval as Roberts helped make amends for his earlier error with a long throw that fell to Gardner at the far post to finish left-footed.

The introduction of Danny Lowe for the second-half heralded a return to the more familiar 4-3-3, but Nuneaton nearly started the half in the same way they began the first when the ball fell to James Armson, only for Toulson to produce a superb flying block to his goal-bound shot.

Chances gradually became more frequent as the game tentatively opened up, with Gardner firing off target from the edge of the box before delightful interplay between Gardner and McManus earned a free-kick, which Wilson put narrowly wide.

Gardner saw a couple of long-range rockets saved by Belshaw, who also turned Roberts’ header behind as Town got stronger as the game wore on.

Nuneaton crafted a rare chance of their own though with 10 minutes left when Theo Streete played a lovely one-two with Moult, but fired wide from 10 yards out.

A winner looked unlikely, never mind two more goals in stoppage time, so when Toulson lashed in Scott McManus’ low cross, the eruption inside the Shay signalled most people expecting that to be that.

But York battled his way into the box straight from the kick-off and saw his shot rebound off him from Glennon’s save and roll agonisingly over the line.

Halifax: Glennon, Toulson, Roberts, Ainge, McManus, Wilson, Pearson, Marshall, Holsgrove (Lowe 46), McReady (Maynard 67), Gardner. Subs not used: Senior, Williams, Worthington.

Scorers: Gardner (40), Toulson (90)

Shots on target: 8

Shots off target: 5

Corners: 2

Nuneaton: Belshaw, Streete, A Bell, Gordon, Dean, Walker, Armson, Moult, Pearson (Taylor 56), Adams, York. Subs not used: Richens, Sleath, Emmitt, M Bell.

Scorers: York (5, 90)

Shots on target: 2

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 4

Attendance: 1,197

Town man of the match: Dan Gardner