“It was a difficult afternoon but I am happy with a point.” Neil Aspin sums up another hectic, and at times luckless, FC Halifax Town away game quite aptly as the Shaymen returned from Aldershot with a valuable point.
The visitors, despite having two precious Lee Gregory goals to celebrate, had to endure a cruel penalty decision and substitute two key players due to injuries, as well as conceding two unfortunate goals courtesy of an untimely intervention by the referee and being disadvantaged by adverse weather conditions; it was an afternoon where all the elements seemed to be stacking up against Aspin’s men.
Even before kick off the statistics spoke for themselves; the Shots hadn’t lost at home in the league since the middle of October and had won all of their previous four Skrill Premier games at the Recreation Ground, scoring 16 goals in the process. A totally changed outfit, therefore, from the side easily swept aside by the Shaymen 4-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season.
As for Town, who were already without the suspended Scott McManus, the last thing manager Aspin wanted was to make an early enforced changed, with Simon Ainge limping off inside seven minutes. The Shay Chief revealed to Shaymen Player after the 2-2 draw:
“Before the game I knew that it would be a totally different game to our previous one against them; they have made a lot of changes since then.
“They came into the game off the back of a good win at Barnet and a good draw at Gateshead so I was expecting a tough game.
“As it panned out you could not legislate for what happened in the game. But when you take everything into consideration then I have to be pleased with a point.
“(We couldn’t have asked for a worse start.) Not when you’ve started without your recognised left-back and obviously we’ve got two other full-backs who have needed operations this year; it has caused disruption.
“Aingey and Robbo have played together quite a bit and the partnership suits their game well, so to lose Aingey in the first few minutes was a blow. We had to restructure and move people from midfield into the back four. Suddenly, what you wanted to do from the start has changed.”
It got worse for Town as a string of bizarre events seemed to threaten another unbearable return journey back to West Yorkshire, ranging from Marc Roberts unfairly being penalised for committing a foul in the penalty box (only for the resulting spot-kick being placed wide by Brett Williams), the referee – Craig Hicks -being unable to get out of the way as Town tried to clear their defensive lines in the fourth minute of added time (time which was added on due to the official receiving lengthy treatment earlier in the game) at the end of the first half leading to Aldershot’s first goal – which also contributed to key man Matty Pearson’s substitution at the interval – and then, to top it off, a persistent howling wind, which helped the home side take the lead in the second half.
Aspin admitted his side didn’t really have the luck with them, yet again, away from home. He said:
“I don’t think it was a penalty. I think it was really harsh and justice was done when he put it wide. You would have to say that up to that point it was a very poor game. It was difficult with the wind but there was little quality. It meant that everything that we played forward was over hit and the ball ran out of play and it made it difficult for Aldershot to play against that wind.
“But we were then unlucky with the equaliser for the referee to get in the way in the fourth minute of stoppage time; it was a kick in the teeth.
“We haven’t had great deals amount of luck away from home and, again, that was unfortunate today. Going in at half-time 1-1, we had already lost Simon Ainge but to then lose Matty Pearson you are then really struggling because we don’t have defenders on the bench.
“We were scratching around to see who could play full-back. Craig Clay drew the short straw and to be fair he did a good job.
“When we then went 2-1 down to a goal that was helped by the wind and the rain is coming down, I must be honest and say it was difficult. We weren’t creating chances and you could have thought that it could have got worse for us.”
Fortunately, Neil Aspin and FC Halifax Town, have Lee Gregory, whose two neat finishes – to firstly give his side a 34th minute lead before rescuing a point late on – propelled him to the joint-top of the Skrill Premier scoring charts. Running out of superlatives for his most treasured asset, Aspin beamed:
“He’s a man in form and he’s having a great season. Those goals will now make him the top scorer in this division and that is a tremendous achievement.
“When you’ve just been promoted and you look at what personnel these big clubs have, for a part-time club to have the top scorer at this level is a great testament, firstly to Lee but also to the team as well. They have had to make chances for him but I must say his ratio of converting the chances that have come his way has been excellent.”
For the full interview with Neil Aspin, including his intentions for the final week of the January Transfer Window, log onto Shaymen Player now
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist