Brackley Town failed to score for a fourth successive game as they earned a point in a goalless draw at play-off rivals FC Halifax.
This absorbing encounter saw two well-matched sides share the spoils in a mirror image of October’s 0-0 draw at St James’ park.
On a very poor pitch, the Shaymen enjoyed the best of the few chances but failed to find the finish as Saints’ fine defensive performance earned the point.
Halifax manager Neil Aspin praised Saints afterwards, saying: “I’ve watched them and we’ve played them twice. Any team that plays them will face a hard game. Don’t write them off this season.”
Jon Brady, meanwhile, was pleased with a hard-won point away from home but did not hide his frustration at being denied what appeared to be a clear penalty at the midway point of the match.
The closest either side came to claiming a first goal before the interval came from Tom Winters’ free-kick that slid just wide of Matt Glennon’s right-hand post before Halifax’s top scorer Lee Gregory shot wide when well placed.
The second half brought the moment of controversy as Matt Pearson was cautioned for bringing down Owen Story only for the referee to award a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area rather than the spot-kick that the foul warranted.
Halifax continued to enjoy the greater share of possession with Saints on the back foot but it was not until the final few minutes that the Shaymen created any sustained pressure on Brackley’s goal.
Gareth Seddon and Lee Gregory came close to stealing the win with Billy Turley making a match-saving stop with his legs from Gregory in added time and just moments from the final whistle, Seddon’s scissor-kick volley flew wide.
With the points shared, the race for the play-off places continues with Brackley third heading into the final nine games of the season.
Brackley: Turley, Clifton, McDonald, Odhiambo, Sharpe, Austin, Story (Nisevic 75), Sandy, Reid, Robinson (Louis 85), Winters (Diggin 72).
Subs not used: Nelson-Addy, Corcoran