Former Halifax striker Scott Boden’s second-half strike cancelled out Jordan Preston’s goal after 18 seconds as FC Halifax drew 1-1 at Gateshead.
The result is a good point for The Shaymen following on from their Boxing Day win at Harrogate, but Town were made to earn it in the end after the hosts applied some second-half pressure.
It is the 10th draw in 12 meetings between the sides, and maintains Halifax’s improved form in recent weeks, with the culmination of a hectic festive schedule now in sight.
Ben Tomlinson made his first start since the 1-1 draw at Sutton on September 1, and provided an excellent cross which Preston, who scored the winner in the return match in August, glanced across goal.
Gateshead’s first choice keeper Aynsley Pears was ruled out due to illness so 22-year-old Mark Foden made his debut for the club after signing from Stenhousemuir in the summer.
His first touch was to pick the ball out of the net.
Gateshead created decent chances inside the box for strikers Luke Armstrong and Boden, both of which were finished tamely.
But other than that, Halifax were barely troubled by the hosts in the opening 45, who produced too many stray passes and not enough urgency in a largely disjointed first-half performance
There was some good movement at times from Halifax’s front four of Tomlinson, Preston, Dayle Southwell and Matty Kosylo, but The Shaymen’s lack of a final pass let them down.
Gateshead claimed Sam Johnson had carried the ball over the line when he rose to pluck it out of the air having saved Armstrong’s shot, but the referee waved play on.
Preston nearly got his second just after the half-hour mark with a superb curling shot from just inside the box, but Foden tipped it onto the bar at full-stretch before James Ferry fired wide from the resulting corner.
Matty Brown had led the Halifax rearguard with typical authority and assurance, with The Shaymen retaining their lead fairly comfortably by half-time.
Preston had a chance to score early in the second-half too, but glanced a header wide from Southwell’s cross.
Gateshead were gradually improving as the game went on, pushing Halifax further back, although still creating few chances.
But Boden was left unmarked to turn the ball in with a scuffed finish from six yards after Armstrong’s cut back.
Armstrong himself went close with a shot that flashed just wide of the near post from the corner of the six-yard-box.
Steve Rigg then headed over Luke Molyneux’s terrific cross from eight yards out in the middle of the box.
The momentum was with the hosts, who forced Town into some desperate defending from Molyneux’s free-kick, before another goal-mouth scramble in which Rigg missed his kick near the penalty spot from a low cross.
Gateshead: Foden, Tinkler, Williamson, Hunter, Kerr, Mellish, Rigg, Molyneux, O’Donnell, Armstrong, Boden. Subs not used: Lumsden, Thomson, Devitt, Forbes, Salkeld.
Scorer: Boden (63)
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 7
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Clarke, Brown, Sellers, Ferry, Maher, Tomlinson (Edwards 76), Preston, Kosylo, Southwell. Subs not used: Rowley, Hanson, Staunton, Odelusi.
Scorer: Preston (1)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 4
Referee: Garreth Rhodes
Town man of the match: Matty Brown