Harrogate Railway missed out on a giant-killing as a cruel late blow edged FC Halifax Town into the West Riding County Cup third round 1-0 at Station View on Monday night.
Josh Wilson wicked free-kick with two minutes to go broke Railway’s hearts and ruined hopes of an all-Harrogate third round tie.
Meanwhile Harrogate Town felt the reverse of Railway’s emotions when Craig Nelthorpe’s late strike overcame Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 at the Horsfall Stadium.
Town stopper Craig MacGillivray had earlier saved a second-half spot-kick, his first save from a penalty since becoming the Sulpuhrites’ number one.
Nelthorpe converted Cleveland Taylor’s cross to secure passage through.
Railway had two goals disallowed for off-side and a host of glorious chances went awry for Billy Miller’s men.
FC Halifax, fielding a mix of senior pros and youth prospects, enjoyed most of the early possession but rarely tested stand-in Railway ‘keeper Lee Ashforth.
The Conference side’s Sam Hillhouse sent the best of those chances narrowly past the post from 12-yards.
Railway were without strikers Paul Beesley (cracked rib) and Steve Bromley (cup-tied) but the tireless Nathan Cartman, Colin Hunter and Rob Youhill grew into the contest.
And after Cartman forced a corner, defender Mike Morris saw his bullet header cleared off the line.
Minutes later Railway had the ball in the net, but Cartman had strayed a yard offside from Youhill’s centre.
Hillhouse reiterated Halifax’s quality as he struck the woodwork with a smart 20-yard shot five minutes before the break.
Railway resumed control after the restart. And midfielder Fatlum Ibrahimi pounced first to slot home from a corner, but again the referee’s flag denied the home side an opener.
Halifax looked rattled, but Hillhouse found space to smack a shot narrowly past Ashforth’s post.
The free-running Youhill continued to probe. His jinking run and low shot struck the foot of the post before Morris blazed over moments later.
Fax’s Kevin Holsgrove then scraped the bar with a deep cross, before Ashforth was forced into a strong low save.
The composed Joel Dixon then found Youhil on the right-flank, and the winger’s extravagant trickery lifted the ball across but Si Parkes headed shamefully over when it looked easier to score.
The resigned look on Parkes face suggested the night was not Railway’s.
And when Morris conceded a late free-kick, Halifax’s England ‘C’ international Josh Wilson swept in a brilliant effort leaving Ashforth without a sniff.
It was a joyous goal worthy of winning any game, but it acted as a bitter blow for Miller’s in-form men.
Railway looked for a dramatic leveller but their pinball pressure in the Shaymen’s penalty box failed to break through.
A late penalty appeal for handball was waved away by the referee as the visitors hung on to deny Rail a money-spinning third round clash against their town rivals.
Railway: Ashforth, Thirkell, Radcliffe, Morris, Maloney, Parkes, Youhill, Dixon, Cartman, Ibrahimi, Hunter. Subs: Matthews, Wood, Kidd, McCrum, Bland
FC Halifax Town: Senior, McReady, Bradley, Wilson, Holsgrove, Quashie, Hillhouse, Worthington, Marshall, Chappell, Johnson. Subs: Penty, Taylor