FC Halifax Town restored some pride in caretaker-manager Neil Young’s first game at the helm with a creditable 1-1 draw at high-flying Wrexham.
The curse of the former player struck again as Scott Boden gave Wrexham an ominous-looking lead inside 20 minutes, but the hosts failed to build on it, and were pegged back just before half-time through Scott Garner - Town’s first away goal in six-and-a-half hours.
And Halifax held on to what could be a precious point with a battling performance, and could even have snatched a winner.
Rumours surfaced just before kick-off that former Wrexham boss Gary Mills was set to be given the Town job.
If so, he will get the chance to build on an encouraging Shaymen display, as they stood toe-to-toe with what were the league leaders.
Young made two changes from Billy Heath’s last team selection - Connor Oliver and Jake Hibbs in for Shaun Tuton and Danny Clarke - but the approach was probably the same to how Heath would have gone about it, with a lone striker, a five-man midfield and a keep-it-tight philosophy.
That nearly went out of the window within five minutes, but Sam Johnson kept out a vicious shot by Chris Holroyd.
Town’s attacking threat was minimal, meaning Wrexham dominated possession, which was too often and too easily gifted back to them.
Boden’s goal came courtesy of generous defending, with one former Town man Kevin Roberts given too much space to cross for the other ex-Shayman to head in unmarked in-between the posts.
Town did at least respond, with efforts from just outside the box from Matty Kosylo and Jake Hibbs.
It was hardly backs-to-the-wall stuff, and The Shaymen were effective in nullifying the hosts, to such an extent that the game verged on boring at times, but most of Town’s possession was inside their own half, with Tom Denton not getting a sniff of a chance in the first-half.
But just before the break, Wrexham’s defence was found just as culpable as Town’s had been by allowing Garner to meet Hibbs’ cross at the far post.
Wrexham were unfortunate to be level at half-time, but Young, back in the dugout after an 18-month absence, will have been the far happier of the two managers.
Yes Town had lacked quality in the opposition half and created little, but they’d stayed in the game despite an early setback, and got their reward.
If anything, Wrexham seemed to be getting worse as the game went on, with no momentum being built at the start of the second-half.
Town went closer to taking the lead when Denton’s diving header went just over from substitute Michael Duckworth’s cross.
It looked like Young’s half-time message had been ‘we can get something here’ as Town attacked with more purpose, with Kosylo running from inside his own half to the edge of the Wrexham box before firing over.
Garner and Matty Brown were excellent at the heart of the Town defence, with The Shaymen growing in confidence and belief they could indeed get something.
After more Wrexham possession that didn’t really go anywhere, Michael Collins’ cross found Denton at the far post, but his scrambled effort again went over.
Sub Scott Quigley was then denied by Johnson’s save low to his left after a superb long-pass by Holroyd - exactly the kind of incisiveness the hosts had failed to show all half.
Just to add to the home fans’ frustrations, fellow sub Jack Mackreth then had to go off shortly after coming on due to Paul Rutherford getting a delayed second booking - after he’d gone off.
Wrexham: Dunn, Roberts, Smith, Pearson, Jennings, Rutherford (Mackreth 82), Deverdics (Quigley 60), Kelly, Wedgbury, Holroyd, Boden (Franks 82). Subs not used: Dibble, Raven.
Scorer: Boden (19)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 4
Halifax: Johnson, Moyo, Brown, Garner, McManus (Duckworth 52), Macdonald (Tuton 74), Hibbs, Collins, Oliver (Clarke 90), Kosylo, Denton. Subs not used: Nicholson, Hotte.
Scorer: Garner (45)
Shots on target: 2
Shots off target: 4
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Town man of the match: Scott Garner