A stoppage time equaliser by Kevin Roberts earned 10-man FC Halifax Town a dramatic 2-2 draw at Salford City.
Town took the lead when Scott Garner scored his first goal for the club with a glancing header, but Salford levelled after the interval through former Shaymen midfielder Sam Walker.
Danny Hone’s dismissal after two avoidable bookings put Town under pressure for the point, but having conceded the penalty with a handball, Roberts put the ball in his own net to complete the Salford comeback.
But Roberts produced a magnificent volley from a late corner to salvage a precious point which looked to have eluded them.
Billy Heath’s quest to field an unchanged team goes on thanks to Telford match-winner Nathan Hotte’s injury, meaning Jake Hibbs started in his place.
Plenty of goals wasn’t an unreasonable expectation given the fact that the two teams had netted 36 goals in their 16 games combined so far.
But there appeared to be a mutual respect between the teams at what the other was capable of, with both reluctant to commit too many players upfield and both defences well drilled about the opposition threat.
The first 20 minutes only yielded one chance apiece, with former Halifax midfielder Walker curling an angled free kick wide, and Richard Peniket glancing a free header off target from Kevin Roberts’ cross.
Both sides’ reputations for hard-work off the ball were justified, with very little time and space on the ball and chances as rare as a Liverpool shirt among the crowd at Moor Lane.
If they were filming for a third series of “Class of 92”, most of the action will have been left on the cutting room floor.
But Town will have been the happier side after the first half-an-hour having quietened the raucous home support with a disciplined display, especially from the outstanding Town back-four.
What a difference from the first-half at Telford.
And they were happier still when Roberts’ superb free kick from out wide was deftly glanced in by an excellent Garner header.
Salford looked for an immediate response and had a shot by Craig King cleared from just off the goal-line by Peniket in the midst of a frenetic 30 seconds.
The lively Mike Phenix then had an overhead kick deflected off target from close range as Salford stepped up a gear before the break.
But by half-time, the league’s third best defence had been breached and the league’s third best attack had been blunted.
If the music over the PA system hadn’t been so loud at the interval, another of those wall-reverberating team-talks by Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley might have been heard.
The manner of Salford’s equaliser will have frustrated Heath as a handball by Roberts when defending a corner gave away a penalty, which Walker lashed high above Steve Drench into the roof of the net; and the roof of the main stand was nearly lifted off as a result.
It’s now two clean sheets in nine games for The Shaymen.
That pepped up the home fans and players and created a test of character for the visitors, who were facing a rejuvenated Salford side in a sizzling atmosphere.
Cool heads were called for, but Hone suffered a rush of blood to his and picked up a second yellow card midway through the second-half for a foul as Salford threatened to break on the Town goal.
From winning at half-time, now a point looked a very good result under the circumstances.
Roberts’ night went from bad to worse when he turned right-back Michael Nottingham’s cross into his own net, having moved to centre-back in Hone’s absence.
The best Halifax could muster after that was a Cliff Moyo shot from 30 yards straight at the keeper, with Billy Priestley spuring a chance to seal the win by blasting over from five yards out.
That chance came back to haunt them when some late pressure paid dividends as Roberts volleyed the ball over a crowded penalty box and into the roof of the net.
Nice to know FC Halifax’s habit of late goals is alive and well under Billy Heath.
Salford: Lynch, Nottingham, O’Halloran, Grand, Priestley, King (Poole 81), Walker, Burton, Phenix (Worley 89), Hulme, Warburton (Wellens 54). Subs not used: Poole, Allen, Johnston.
Scorers: Walker (55), (Roberts og 73)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 6
Halifax: Drench, Moyo, Garner, Hone, Wilde, Macdonald, King (Sinnott 84), Hibbs, Roberts, Peniket (Kosylo 77), Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Burrow, Hughes.
Scorers: Garner (35), Roberts (90)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 3
Town man of the match: Scott Garner
Referee: Aaron Jackson