Scott Boden’s goal five minutes from time saw FC Halifax Town through to the second round of the FA Trophy against Worcester.
As it turned out, Worcester v Halifax take two wasn’t quite worth the wait as a spectacle, but Boden’s 11th of the season capped a hard-working display by the Shaymen.
Not only is Wembley a tiny step closer, but Town’s coffers have also been swelled by £5,000; not a bad early Christmas present.
The Worcester PA announcer greeted the final whistle by saying the hosts could now concentrate on the league, but that’s only after a a first-half of the season peppered with cup-ties, most if not all of which were probably better than this one.
But it’s now four wins out of five for Town in all competitions, with this one arguably the most impressive of the quartet.
Neither manager will have wanted a game on Christmas Eve eve, but Neil Aspin’s team selection left no room for doubt about his intention to treat the FA Trophy seriously, with Ross Dyer and Paul Marshall both recovering from their viruses to start.
Worcester’s Carl Heeley and Sean Geddes were named manager and player of the month for November, and the latter showed why in the opening minute with a curling shot just wide of Matt Glennon’s far post with the outside of his right foot.
The hosts looked like a different club altogether from the former Conference North strugglers who once conceded four goals against Lee Gregory in one game.
The Town boss said before kick-off that the trip to Worcester was as tough as any game against a Conference Premier team.
And they were prophetic words as Worcester played with a quick tempo and some neat touches on the ball, as you’d perhaps expect of a team who had only lost twice at home in 2014.
Daniel Nti looked to be Worcester’s version of Adam Smith, and the tricky right-winger settled quickly into an intriguing battle with Scott McManus.
Nti enjoyed the space that not many other players did thanks to a congested middle third and subsequently became the hosts’ best outlet.
After feeding the ball back in-field, Ellis Deeney hit a thumping shot that Glennon helped behind midway through the first-half.
Scott Boden and Dyer looked a little isolated up-front with Town unable to sustain many prolonged spells of possession.
Neither side could be faulted for effort but the game still refused to break out into much of a contest, although Nti produced a bullet of a shot that Glennon did brilliantly to tip over at full stretch.
Town had restricted the hosts to very few chances, no mean feat considering they’d score in each of their last 13 games before tonight.
But the half-time introduction of Adam Smith suggested the Town boss wanted more from his side going forward.
There were more promising signs when Will Hatfield’s shot was deflected over before Ross Dyer failed to convert Marc Roberts’ header on the stretch from the resulting corner.
A more worrying sign came when Geddes, scorer of ‘that’ Rabona goal, wriggled free and drove the ball towards Glennon, who grasped it at the second attempt with Mike Symons in close attention.
Good work by half-time substitute Adam Smith saw him get half-a-yard against left-back Danny Jackman before whipping in a far post cross but Dyer headed over.
Smith was now the outlet for Town that Nti had been for Worcester before the interval.
Jamie Jackson was brought on as Town awaited their first effort on target with around 15 minutes remaining; not a regular occurrence by any means.
The move of the match so far saw a delightful one-two between Nti and Jordan Murphy before the latter’s shot was parried by Glennon.
Worcester could perhaps sense another cup scalp as the clock ticked down, with some lovely trickery by Murphy before he fired over followed by a long range effort by Deeney that Glennon turned away.
Town then came closest yet when Roberts rose magnificently to head a free-kick off the far post.
Boden, a peripheral figure for most of the evening, then suddenly found a bit of space in the box and lashed the ball past Nathan Vaughan after his first effort was blocked.
Worcester: Vaughan, Weir, Hutchinson, Rowe, Khan (Gater 57), Geddes, Murphy, Deeney, Jackman (Taylor 88), Symons (Dunkley 64), Nti. Subs not used: Wright, Veiga.
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 6
Halifax: Glennon, K Roberts (Pearson 36), Bolton, M Roberts, McManus, Marshall (Marshall 46), Maynard, Hatfield, Schofield, Dyer (Jackson 73), Boden. Subs not used: Senior, Williams.
Scorer: Boden (85)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 6
Town man of the match: Marc Roberts