The Shay is turning into the Skrill Premier’s Centre of Entertainment. In a season already jam-packed with goals, red cards and controversy, the visit of second-place Cambridge United to the league’s highest home scorers only enhanced The Shay’s reputation as a thrill-seekers’ paradise.
More goals, including another one for Lee Gregory, another dismissal and one controversial decision which threatened to dampen the Shaymen’s mood who had more than matched the genuine title contenders – the same side that convincingly beat them 5-1 on the opening day of the season.
It was that ruling, an apparent foul by debutant Marlon Jackson on Harrison Dunk, which riled Town boss Neil Aspin, with Tom Elliott heading in the resulting free kick. Aspin told Shaymen Player:
“It definitely wasn’t a free kick; it was shoulder to shoulder. I don’t think anybody in the ground would have given a free kick apart from the referee.
“You can say we still had the chance to defend the free kick but we were unfortunate in that the man who scored should have been picked up by Lois Maynard who had just limped off.
“It was a real kick in the teeth but the response was fantastic.”
With a burning sense of injustice, Aspin’s men roared back into life and equalised through Gregory – his 15th league goal of an incredible campaign, and 17 in all competitions. It was his second against United having netted at The Abbey back in August and only the 11th league goal Cambridge had conceded this season. Aspin, unsurprisingly, was delighted. He said:
“You’re not going to get lots of chances against Cambridge. Their defensive record is excellent, so you know that chances will be at a premium.
“They are well organised, they have got a lot of height in the side and they are disciplined so you are not going to create a hatful of chances. What chances you get, you need to be clinical as you don’t expect to get a lot.
“But we have scored in every game at home and it’s a record that I am proud of. I am pleased that we have managed to continue that today.
“We managed to get the tempo back up and get back into the game. We know that if we can get the ball to Lee Gregory into the right areas, then his finishing has been excellent this season. It was another fantastic goal.
“He doesn’t just score goals; he holds the ball up well, he works hard for the team, he brings other players into play and he is developing into one hell of a player. We’re lucky that we’ve got him.”
Town’s quest to completely to turn the game on its head was hindered by Scott McManus’ second bookable offence moments after Gregory’s leveller but the ten men were enable to secure a draw that felt “like a win” according to a proud Aspin, who said:
“On balance a draw was probably a fair result. We were fortunate not to go behind in the first ten minutes, where I felt we were really sloppy. We could have been punished but that’s the one bit of fortune that we did get in the game.
“We made a lot of bad errors and bad errors of judgment. We didn’t come out of the blocks very well, which is disappointing because at home we tend to start games well; certainly today we didn’t.
“I was relieved when we got into the game. Once we found our feet I felt we matched them. I am really proud of the players’ effort. Some games when you draw, it feels like a defeat. But this game today feels like a win.
“When you play against a team who have been at the top all season, when you’re down to ten men and when you feel like you’ve been robbed of a goal and the player who scores it should have been marked by the player who went off injured – all that bad luck there means that I am really, really pleased with the players.
“I have always said that if they give 100% in effort and commitment then that is all I ask, regardless of what the result.”
Watch the full interview on Shaymen Player
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist