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First Team

Cambridge United: “Credit To The Lads”

Posted by Kelly Gilchrist
Posted on Sun 19 Jan 2014
Posted in First Team

Jon Challinor made his home debut on Saturday as FC Halifax Town came from behind to seal a 1-1 draw with Skrill Conference high flyers Cambridge United.

Having impressed after taking the right back berth last week at Wrexham, Challinor kept his place in the back four as he made his Shay bow in front of a bumper 1,767 crowd and despite some apprehension he thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “Yeah I did enjoy it. It was tough and I was a bit nervous obviously playing in front of The Shay but I’m glad to get it out the way, get the point and go onto next week.”

Having signed last week, the man on a dual registration from Stamford says that the team are happy with their second point in a week, especially given the calibre of Cambridge United who are still the favourites for many to win the division: “I think we have to be, they’re the under pressure team as their expected to win and the lads showed great team spirit to come back especially after going down to ten men, and we’re pleased with it.”

Shortly after Lee Gregory’s equaliser Scott McManus was given his marching orders after picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge. While it may have killed some of the Shaymen’s momentum on the back of the goal, the 33-year-old believes that it makes the point gained all the more satisfying: “I think so, like I said they needed to come here and win and the onus was on them. Don’t get me wrong we’re confident to get the results we need to get into the play-offs and push on but especially with ten men we’re pleased to get the point.”

After Tom Elliott’s header had given the visitors a second half lead, Neil Aspin’s side showed great character to get back into the game against a U’s side whose defensive record has been exemplary all season long. The former York City man says he could tell why the record at The Shay has been so impressive upon his arrival, and that the confidence and character of his team mates made him believe that they would get back into the match: “Yeah I think that given the position that we are in the league we’re always going to be in the game, regardless of who they are. We’re confident as a team and especially here with the record, we’re confident of getting results. The team spirit coming in has been good and we’ll keep on going and hopefully get the results.”

However the decision to award the free kick which led to Cambridge’s goal was a point of controversy after the referee Darren Handley had adjudged debutant Marlon Jackson had illegally felled Richard Tait just outside the area. Harrison Dunk’s resulting free kick found Elliott who headed home, but the discontent around The Shay was clear to see from players, staff and supporters alike: “I think it was soft, it was shoulder to shoulder and the referee has been conned into it but that’s football, you get some decisions like that and the next stage is to deal with the free kick and we didn’t. Credit to the lads though for getting back into the game.”

It was a contest of few real opportunities, and the home side found it tough to break down the division’s meanest defence. However once Adam Smith looped a left footed cross into the area, Gregory was on hand to take the one opportunity to equalise, and despite his short time at the club it is something Challinor knows is typical of the club’s top scorer: “I’ve known Lee for years, he’s a natural born goalscorer and you just need to give him a chance and even though he hasn’t scored in a couple of games, he’ll keep plugging away and the goals will come.”

The versatile midfielder come defender believes he is slowly gelling into his new surroundings and has enjoyed his time at the club so far, albeit even if his match fitness isn’t quite where he wants it to be just yet: “I’m getting there, I’d like to be a bit fitter but the lads have welcomed me in and to play the two games, we would have liked three points but especially against a top team today we’re pleased with a point.”

Challinor’s demeanour is one of positivity following his two games undefeated since joining the club, and despite The Shaymen’s away day woes so far this campaign he believes the team have every reason to be confident heading into a trip to Aldershot Town next weekend: “I think we have to be, to go to Wrexham and get a point there’s no reason why we can’t go one better and get the three points next week. We want to get on a run to cement a play-off spot and that’s what we’ll be looking to.” 

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