Halifax 2-2 Gateshead
A last-gasp free-kick by substitute Matty Kosylo rescued a point for FC Halifax Town as they drew 2-2 with Gateshead at The Shay.
The curse of the former player struck again as Jordan Burrow put Gateshead into a half-time lead.
But Mike Fondop-Talom’s header, his third goal in three games, brought Town level just after half-time.
Burrow struck again late on seemingly to condemn Town to only their second defeat under Jamie Fullarton, but Kosylo’s wonderful free-kick salvaged a point for Town, for whom defeat would have been scant reward for a performance that got better as the game went on.
The Shaymen recovered from a below-par first-half with an improved display after the interval, and now sit in the top-half of the table and 10 points clear of the drop zone, something which seemed a long way off a couple of months ago.
Town boss Fullarton only made three changes from Tuesday night, with the returning Michael Collins captaining the side in Matty Brown’s absence; forgotten men Tom Denton and Shaun Tuton were still nowhere to be seen.
Gateshead, like Sutton on Tuesday, could have been 2-0 up inside five minutes, but ex-Town man Richard Peniket had his tame shot cleared off the line by Josh Wilde before Paddy McLaughlin’s effort was held low down by ex-Gateshead keeper Sam Johnson.
The pitch was badly scarred in places and didn’t help Halifax, for some reason playing in yellow, get out of their sluggish start, although Gateshead, subject to the same rigorous fixture list Town have had recently, were brighter and more purposeful on the ball early on, making the hosts do most of the running and probing patiently.
A confident looking Gateshead belied their form of no win in seven as they sprayed the ball about nicely, although the same could be said of Halifax when Ben Tomlinson’s delightful cross-field pass played in Connor Thomson, but his left-foot shot went over from an angle.
But Gateshead had arguably been the better side, so taking the lead wasn’t entirely unjustified when Jamal Fyfield nodded down a free-kick into the box, and Burrow reacted quickest to the loose ball to prod home.
Perhaps that would spark Town into life; Burrow putting his finger to his lips in celebration in-front of the South Stand certainly provoked a reaction from the crowd.
Town had their moments in the opening-half, with Tomlinson industrious and Jake Hibbs finding space in decent areas, but the hosts were largely ineffective going forward, lacking incisiveness and a creative spark, with no shot on target before the interval.
That soon changed though when Fondop-Talom met Collins’ excellent cross from the right with a superb downward header into the bottom corner.
That heralded a much better performance from Town, who upped their tempo, were quicker to the ball and more aggressive in the tackle.
Collins brought a good save from Montgomery with a long-range shot, before Fondop-Talom’s effort almost ballooned over the keeper, with Town now much more assertive.
Gateshead twice went close to regaining the lead though, with Fraser Kerr’s bullet header whistling wide and Danny Johnson’s shot kept out by his namesake.
A winner still eluded either side as Thomson inexplicably fired over from 12 yards after a cross from the right found him unmarked at the back of the box.
Tomlinson then should have done better when Fondop-Talom’s square pass played him in to the right of the area, but Montgomery saved his drilled effort.
Burrow looked like he’d had the last laugh as he again reacted quickest to a loose ball in the area after Johnson had saved but not held a long-range shot.
However, Kosylo flashed a fantastic free-kick past Montgomery from 25-yards with nearly the last kick of the game.
Halifax: Johnson, Duckworth, Maher, Graham, Wilde (Hanley 78), Thomson, Collins, Hibbs (Kosylo 75), Hotte, Tomlinson, Fondop-Talom. Subs not used: Nicholson, McManus, Oliver.
Scorers: Fondop-Talom (48), Kosylo (90)
Shots on target: 6
Shots off target: 7
Gateshead: Montgomery, Kerr, Byrne, (Vassell 60), Fyfield, Barrow, York (Preston 69), Penn, McLaughlin, Peniket (Green 76), Johnson, Burrow. Subs not used: Hanford, Greenwood.
Scorer: Burrow (38, 90)
Shots on target: 9
Shots off target: 5
Referee: Daniel Middleton
Town man of the match: Michael Collins