Cambridge United 5-1 FC Halifax Town
There aren’t many Shaymen fans that would want to recall FC Halifax Town’s arrival into Conference football this season. On the opening day of the new campaign, Town endured a nightmare start at the R Costings’ Abbey Stadium, losing 5-1 to Cambridge United after being reduced to nine men inside 23 minutes. You could have been forgiven at that point for thinking The Shaymen were in for a long season back in the fifth tier.
However things had started brightly against The U’s with Lee Gregory netting the opening goal on eight minutes, also opening his personal account for the season by swivelling to meet a bouncing ball from a right wing corner and directed the ball past Chris Maxwell. That was however as good as it got for Neil Aspin’s side that afternoon.
Captain Danny Lowe was dismissed shortly after when he brought down Tom Elliott as the striker ran through on goal, the misery was compounded when Adam Cunnington converted the resulting penalty to equalise. Then on 23 minutes Harrison Dunk raced onto Marc Roberts’ short back pass to skip round Matt Glennon before the experienced keeper brought him down, and was also sent his marching orders to join Lowe in the dressing room.
This meant substitute goalkeeper Tom Morgan, who had signed only two days previously on a dual contract basis from Farsley, made his second Shaymen debut eleven years after his first against Stevenage Borough. That day Morgan had saved a Jason Goodliffe penalty, and sure enough his first action at The Abbey was to deny Cunnington his second goal from the spot as he turned the ball round the post.
With the score still level Aspin saw his side defend resolutely as they looked to go into half-time which something to cling on to, however the Ryan Donaldson denied them that with a low shot to give the hosts the lead. Another Roberts’ horror back pass let in Delano Sam-Yorke to score just after the break before Cunnington and Sam-Yorke both grabbed braces to finish the scoring at five.
As The Shaymen no look forward to a return to Cambridgeshire on Sunday afternoon, the script has been written beautifully for Town who could inflict revenge at the end of their season, upon the team who did their best to prevent it from starting.
FC Halifax Town 1-1 Cambridge United
Cambridge United arguably provided the greatest threat of inflicting only a second home defeat on The Shaymen this season when they came to town in the middle of January. As a unit they were tight, robust, inventive and full of pace and power and could have been three goals to the good within the opening 15 minutes, as a coMBination of spurned chances and some inspired Glennon goalkeeping kept them out.
However The Shaymen responded to this bright start from the visitors terrifically well to take a point from the match, with the general consensus being that it was a point gained rather than two dropped. It was also a game that brought about a lot of frustration from the bench as the referee seemed particularly whistle happy throughout the second half.
It was a refereeing decision that cost The Shaymen a goal after 65 minutes when Marlon Jackson was adjudged to have fouled Dunk on the edge of the area, and from Dunk’s resulting delivery Tom Elliott nodded home to give Cambridge the lead. Aspin’s right hand man Lee Nogan was sent to the stands for his protestations and a sense of injustice began to bite the atmosphere at The Shay as supporters urged their team forward.
The equaliser came ten minutes later with a touch of genius from the main man Lee Gregory, who once again secured a point for his team almost single-handedly as he plucked Adam Smith’s high left footed cross out of the air, turned his marker with ease and slotted the ball into John Sullivan’s near post.
Scott McManus was given his marching orders late on after collecting his second yellow card, making it three dismissals in two matches for The Shaymen against Cambridge United. However, it was a result that displayed the key characteristics FC Halifax Town have shown this season, a hunger, a fight, a commitment to the cause, a refusal to give up and one of those moments of real quality that have lit up this scintillating season.
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist