FC Halifax Town captain Liam King converted the decisive penalty to secure the Shaymen a 1-0 victory over Stalybridge Celtic at the MBi Shay Stadium.
Liam King blasted home the games winning penalty after Tom Denton was dragged to the floor chasing a spill by Celts’ keeper Tony McMillan.
Billy Heath’s Shaymen now climb to just two points off the play-offs, while Stalybridge drop below the dotted line at the bottom.
Halifax started the game the far better of the two sides. Cliff Moyo and Josh MacDonald have become a formidable partnership of late and had Stalybridge’s wide left turned and running back toward their goal line more than a few times in the early stages.
MacDonald’s crosses were just an uncharacteristically quiet Tom Denton away from giving Halifax an lead.
Against the run of play entirely, Stalybridge were presented with arguably the best chance of the first 45 minutes. Graham Wylie got goal side of Moyo to curled a cross to the far post and onto the laces of Daniel Wilkins, but he could only rattle the woodwork.
With the freedom that Kevin Roberts provides to the rest of the midfield, King was able to make direct forward runs and was on the receiving end of Moyo’s long ball just before the half hour.
However, in front of goal, King’s low effort was well saved by Celts’ keeper Tony McMillan, who was in for a busy afternoon.
It would be an identical play that set up the Shaymen for the most frustrating missed chance of the half. King again found himself in and behind but this time with the back-up of MacDonald.
King was free to either let fire or set up his teammate but did neither, getting the ball caught under his feet and scuffing the pass. Captain King’s only blip in an otherwise faultless half.
The skipper was given the golden opportunity to right his wrongs just before the break when Halifax were awarded a penalty.
McMillan in the Stalybridge goal spilled the ball into the path of Denton who was then wrestled to the ground. King converted with all the calmness that his earlier chances had required. Town lead at the break.
After the interval the game took on a different tempo. The game felt much slower and sluggish, but the Shaymen pushed on.
Denton got on the end of MacDonald’s cross with a diving header only to watch it agonising bounce up and over the bar.
Yellow cards for Scott Garner, Richard Peniket and King told the story of what was a feisty second-half where even the two benches would come together to exchange heated words.
In the game’s final minute Halifax were almost made to pay for their missed chance is such typical fashion. Wilkins, who impressed for Stalybridge, found space behind Daniel Hone and curled his effort around Steve Drench and onto the far post.
The ball then fell perfectly to Celts’ captain Matthew Hughes who could only watch as his shot was blocked magnificently by Garner, protecting all three points for the Shaymen.
The full-time whistle meant Halifax had climbed back into the top ten and, thanks to results elsewhere, just two points off the play-offs ahead of Tuesday night’s trip to Gainsborough Trinity.
FC Halifax Town
XI: Drench; Moyo, Wilde, King, Hone, Garner, MacDonald, Hibbs, Denton, Roberts, Peniket.
Subs: Nicholson, Hughes (64'), Sinnott (68'), O'Brien, Burrow (73').
Goals: 34' King (pen),
Yellow Cards: Garner 51', Peniket 63', King 83'
Red Cards: None
XI: McMillan; Wylie, Kely, Gorton, Hughes, Ryan; Chalmers, Wisdom; Owens Wilkins, Chippendale.
Subs: Gillam (66'), Tames (51'), Pilkington, Mukendi, Sherlock (82').
Yellow Cards: Chalmers 40',
Red Cards: None
Attendance: 1552 (37 away fans)
Man of the Match: Scott Garner.