FC Halifax Town were held to a 2-2 draw against fellow play-off hopefuls Macclesfield Town.
The Vanarama Conference play-off battle was a spicy affair with Waide Fairhurst seeing red in the second-half.
A brace from Jack Sampson in the first-half after a Thierry Audel own goal, was cancelled out by an equaliser from second-half substitute Will Hatfield to score his first goal for the Shaymen.
Jamie Jackson set the tempo for the physical affair with his crunching tackle in the first minute. From then on things fell in the Shaymen’s favour with former Macclesfield striker Scott Boden’s effort at goal taking a big deflection from Audel, after Marc Roberts’ throw-in caused problems for the Silkmen defence and left Rhys Taylor powerless to prevent the ball as it crawled over the line in the third minute of the game.
The goal proved to be somewhat of a wake-up call for the Silkmen with the club’s joint top goal scorer Fairhurst sending an audacious effort over the bar.
It was then not long before Sampson equalised on the quarter of an hour mark after Chris Holroyd sent an inviting cross into the box and left Sampson with only Matt Glennon to beat, which he duly did with a composed finish.
The Shaymen tried to get back into the game with some good footwork from former Macclesfield player James Bolton slipping the ball through the legs of Alex Grant, looking for Jack Muldoon on the overlap who continued his good form from the weekend and sent in a cross into the box, but it was caught on the heels by Matty Pearson.
Chances began to fall in favour of the away side with a mix-up in the Shaymen defence between Scott McManus and Graham Hutchison, who collided into each other to allow Dan Whitaker through but Marc Roberts made a valuable clearance to keep the scores level.
Macclesfield continued to dominate the midfield battle and it was only a few moments later when Whitaker once again caused problems at the back after his initial shot at goal could only be parried away be Glennon. Whitaker then had a second bite of the cherry but his effort was once again pushed out by Glennon but only into the path of an oncoming Sampson who tapped the ball into the back of the net for his second of the afternoon.
Sampson continued to make his name known at the Shay with Hutchison struggling to clear from the oncoming striker but fortunately the ball rebounded off Fairhurst and straight into the arms of Glennon.
Neil Aspin changed his tactics at the half-time break as he switched from a five at the back system to 4-3-3 as he brought on Will Hatfield in place of Hutchison, to leave a centre back pairing of Marc Roberts and Steve Williams.
Despite the first-half being a physical affair it took until the second-half before Macclesfield received their first booking of the game which was handed to Paul Lewis. Will Hatfield then forced a magnificent save from Taylor in the Silkmen goal with his dipping free-kick.
The physical tempo of the game spilled over into the second-half and became too much for Fairhurst who left the referee Simon Bennett with no choice as he saw red after he moved his head towards the head of McManus.
Second-half substitute Adam Smith whipped in a corner for Marc Roberts to latch onto at the back post, but Taylor leapt across the face of goal to swipe the ball away in time.
The Shaymen then made the most of the one man advantage with Boden playing in Muldoon who saw his shot saved but second-half substitute Hatfield was there to slot in the rebound and score his first goal for the club.
Events continued to boil over with the Silkmen racking up the yellow cards and Andy Halls found himself in the book after a late challenge on Matt Pearson to send the midfielder to ground on the sidelines.
Pressure continued to build in favour of the Shaymen as Smith saw his shot from outside the box saved by Taylor. Bolton then tried a looping header to catch Taylor off his line but the effort landed just over the crossbar.
Both teams were forced to share the spoils at the full-time whistle with both teams still vying for a valuable place in the play-off places come the end of the season.
FC Halifax Town:Glennon, Bolton, McManus, M.Roberts (C), Hutchison (Hatfield ’45), Williams, Pearson, Schofield (Hattersley ’69), Jackson (Smith ’64), Muldoon, Boden.
Substitutes:Senior, Smith, K.Roberts, Hatfield, Hattersley.
Goals:Audel (OG ‘3), Hatfield (’75)
Yellow cards:Jackson (‘1), McManus (’79)
Macclesfield Town:Taylor, Halls, Audel, Pilkington, Turnbull (C), Lewis, Holroyd, Fairhurst, Whitaker, Grant, Sampson (Barnes-Homer ’86).
Substitutes:Barnes-Homer, Roe, Bell, Barrow, Haining.
Goals:Sampson (’15 ’31)
Yellow cards:Lewis (’56), Turnball (’59), Holroyd (’73), Halls (’77)
Red cards:Fairhurst (’62)
Attendance:1768 (337 Macclesfield)
Website Man of the Match:Jack Muldoon