Chris Smith’s late header provided FC Halifax Town with a crucial three points in their play-off push that sends The Shaymen up into fifth place in the table. His towering header was dispatched past James Belshaw to send the squad and the fans into scenes of pandemonium.
The match had got underway to a chorus of Shaymen fans saluting returning captain Danny Lowe by chanting his name in appreciation. He lined up alongside Smith in central defence who was making his full debut for The Shaymen.
Both sides started brightly but lovely interplay from Scott McManus, Ryan Crowther and Lee Gregory nearly sent another full debutant Marlon Jackson through on goal but for some good goalkeeping from Belshaw.
Daniel Sleath’s wind assisted corner then nearly curled over the head of Matt Glennon but it landed precariously onto the roof of his net before Louis Moult whipped a deflected free kick just wide of the near post, although Glennon looked to have it covered.
Then came Nuneaton’s best chance of the game this far as a left wing corner flashed into the far post where Theo Streete rose highest but couldn’t get above the ball and proceeded to nod over the bar.
Then it was time for The Shaymen’s first guilt edge chance as barely a minute later Gregory collected Crowther delicious in-swinging cross and turned in the area before crashing a thunderous effort off the face of the crossbar from about eight yards.
Town continued to look lively with Crowther down the left and Gregory proceeded to have efforts blocked by the Nuneaton defence who also got in the way of shots from Lois Maynard and Matt Pearson.
Then the hosts came very close to taking the lead in bizarre fashion as Louis Moult waltzed his way into the area unchallenged before clipping a left footed cross into the six yard box. Everyone left it to go wide before it dropped onto the crossbar and came back into play to spare the Shaymen’s blushes. Just before half time Gregory made space in the area to collect Maynard’s pinpoint cross but Gareth Dean made a wonderful last stitch tackle to poke the ball behind his own goal and concede a corner.
Josh Wilson replaced the unwell Paul Marshall at the break but it was Glennon who made the initial difference as a ball over the top found Moult whose shot was blacked and smothered by the Town keeper.
Then captain Dean went close with two headed efforts, before Glennon produced the save of the match to deny Andy Brown’s header from a left wing corner. Seconds later Gregory bent a clever left footed effort narrowly wide.
Crowther then tested Belshaw from 20 yards before sending Gregory clean through who couldn’t get the contact he wanted on the ball as it looped over the bar. Substitute Scott Spencer then had the ball in the net but Gregory was adjudged to have pushed Belshaw and the strike was ruled out, and Spencer denied his first Shaymen goal.
Then the breakthrough came in the 85th minute through an unlikely source in Smith who headed firmly past Belshaw from Wilson’s corner to send his travelling supporters behind the goal into raptures. It was priceless moment and one that will sure to be remembered long after the conclusion of this season should it end it play-off success.
A huge goal, but now Neil Aspin’s side had to hang on and seal their sixth clean sheet in seven matches.
Dave Hibbert fired over from 20 yards as the hosts toiled for an equaliser but failed to breach to The Shaymen back four and seconds later the referee blew his whistle to see The Shaymen move up to fifth in the table.
The magnitude of the win was exampled by the noise of the town behind the goal and the delight of the players who congratulated each other on the pitch and basked in the glory of their fourth away victory of the campaign.
Halifax:Glennon; Bolton, Chris Smith, Lowe (c), McManus; Maynard, Pearson, Marshall (Wilson 46), Crowther, Jackson (Spencer 64); Gregory
Subs:Senior, Wilson, Spencer, McReady, Worthington
Nuneaton:Belshaw; Streete, Cowan, Dean (c), Cranston; Moult (York 68), Trainer, Armson, Sleath (Walker 68); Hibbert, Brown
Subs:Gordon, Walker, Adams, York, Pearson
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