FC Halifax Town and Cambridge United shared the spoils in a feisty 1-1 draw at The Shay.
Lee Gregory rescued a point for The Shaymen with a wonderfully taken goal after Tom Elliott had given the visitors the lead.
The Shaymen had Scott McManus sent off for a second bookable offence, but held on to ensure the U’s didn’t escape with all three points.
It was the visitors who had the first chance of the game, a mere thirty seconds in, when Harrison Dunk found the ball at his feet inside the FC Halifax Town penalty area, but a courageous last ditch challenge by centre back Marc Roberts prevented the U’s number eleven giving his side a dream start.
The next chance to have a sight at goal fell to Lois Maynard, who saw a gap open up in front of him and decided to try his luck from long range, only to see his rasping drive fly wide of John Sullivan’s right hand post.
Next up was a long range effort by Cambridge United’s Ryan Donaldson from a short free-kick. Donaldon’s low drive was palmed away by Shaymen custodian Matt Glennon, with the ball fortuitously falling to a blue shirt to clear for a corner.
After that there was a ten minute spell in the game where the referees whistle didn’t seem to leave his lips. Numerous niggling fouls were committed as the game threatened to become quite a heated affair.
It was from another free-kick that the next chance came for the visitors, as they began to slightly shade the first-half. This time it was Tom Elliott who forced Matt Glennon into making a save. Glennon was called into action again when Matthew Barnes-Homer took his turn to try his luck from a short free-kick.
Town’s best chance of the half fell to top scorer Lee Gregory, who rose highest to meet a left wing cross from Scott McManus, only to see his header flash past the post.
Another chance closely followed with Simon Ainge meeting a lovely cross by Adam Smith but he like Gregory before him, saw his header fly wide of the post.
The tone was set for the second half by the ending to the first, which saw three players earn themselves yellow cards for badly timed challenges.
With both teams trading blows in what was becoming a frustrating stalemate for both, it was the visitors who struck first through Tom Elliott, who headed home after Harrison Dunk had put the goal at Elliott’s mercy with a delightful cross from the left hand side.
Town may have had a right to feel slightly aggrieved at the free-kick that was given for a foul by debutant Marlon Jackson, which saw Neil Aspin’s right hand man Lee Nogan sent to the stands for his protests.
Frustrations from the Town faithful were being aimed at the referee, who was sarcastically cheered whenever he gave a decision in favour of the home side.
Matty Pearson, who seems to have been putting the hours in during shooting practice decided to take matters into his own hands and send an absolute rocket goalwards, but saw John Sullivan acrobatically come to Cambridge United’s rescue, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Just as it was looking like Cambridge were asserting their dominance and taking the sting out of the game, up stepped talisman Lee Gregory to score the goal that earned The Shaymen a share of the spoils.
A high, looping cross from the right by Adam Smith was expertly controlled by Gregory who turned on a sixpence and rifled the ball low into the corner past a helpless Sullivan.
Ecstacy soon turned to agony within a minute of The Shaymen getting back on level terms, when Scott McManus was sent off for a second bookable offence. He had received his first caution only three minutes prior to receiving his marching orders, which meant that The Shaymen would have their backs against the wall for the final fifteen minutes.
However, some resolute defending from Neil Aspin’s men meant that the U’s were restricted to just the one real opportunity of note, with substitute Nathan Arnold seeing his name in lights, but his left footed shot from outside the box was high, wide and not at all handsome.
All in all, both teams were good value for a point and a draw was a fair reflection on the game.
FC Halifax Town: Glennon; Challinor, Ainge, Roberts, McManus; Pearson, Maynard(Marshall 65); Smith, Clay(Jackson 60), Wilson; Gregory.
Subs not used: Senior, Worthington, Gray.
Goals: Gregory 76
Bookings: Pearson, McManus, Clay.
Red Cards: McManus
Cambridge United: Sullivan; Tait, Coulson, Miller (c), Taylor; Chambers(Arnold 83), Champion, Donaldson(Hughes 85), Dunk; Barnes-Homer(Berry 65), Elliott.
Subs not used: Roberts, Norris.
Goals: Elliott 65
Bookings: Miller, Champion.
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