Aldershot 2-2 FC Halifax Town

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Lee Gregory scored twice as FC Halifax Town battled to a 2-2 draw in horrible conditions at Aldershot.

Town moved up to sixth in the Skrill Premier as Aldershot became the latest victims to Gregory’s prolific season as the Town striker produced two clinical finishes to start and end the scoring.

Gregory made it 19 for the season, and notched his first away league goals since Macclesfield back in August, as Town were forced to fight back from 2-1 behind.

Marlon Jackson replaced Josh Wilson for his first Town start, while Paul Marshall came in for the suspended Scott McManus, with Lois Maynard moving to left-back.

Jackson was one of three former Shots players in the Town starting 11 along with Jon Challinor and Adam Smith.

Simon Ainge also played at the Recreation Ground as a trialist back in 2009, and his return was just as brief as he was forced off with an injury only seven minutes in.

That forced a major reshuffle as Lois Maynard slotted in alongside Marc Roberts, with Matt Pearson switching to right-back; hardly an ideal start against the fourth-highest home scorers in the division.

Brett Williams, with 19 goals in all competitions, certainly didn’t need an invitation to shoot at goal, but Matt Glennon’s poor clearance was exactly that, although the Aldershot striker badly miscued his attempt to catch the Town keeper off his line.

Fellow hot-shot Gregory carved out a chance of his own after chasing down a loose ball but his effort dribbled meekly to Aldershot keeper Glenn Morris before Marshall’s cross nearly sneaked in but rebounded off the bar.

Town were then left fuming after referee Craig Hicks’ decision to award the hosts a penalty for Marc Roberts’ tackle on namesake Jordan following his powerful run into the box.

The Town defender appeared to get the ball as he lunged at the winger, but the visitors could argue justice was done when Williams inexplicably rolled the ball wide after notching eight goals in his last eight games.

There was no such trouble for Gregory though, who characteristically pounced 10 yards out to prod Pearson’s cross past Morris and cap a dramatic few minutes hardly in-keeping with the half-hour that had preceded it.

While the goal seemed to galvanize Town as they snapped eagerly into the tackle, it had the opposite effect on Aldershot, who incurred the groans of the home supporters as they repeatedly lost possession under little or no pressure.

Jaydon Gibbs then spurned a clear chance at the end of the first-half after hesitant defending by Maynard, only to shoot off target from a narrow angle.

Town were then left to rue the referee’s involvement again seconds before the break when their attempted clearance rebounded off Mr Hicks and back to the Shots, who hit the bar through Bradley Bubb before Roberts tapped in on the line.

Further re-jigging was called for at the start of the second-half as Josh Wilson replaced the injured Pearson, requiring Craig Clay to drop to right-back; the third Town player to fill that role since kick-off.

Bubb then outpaced Glennon to a through ball before his shot was cleared off the line by Roberts as Aldershot began to pin the visitors back, helped by a makeshift Town back-four and a blustery wind that held up any high balls out of defence.

The playing conditions soon deteriorated further as heavy rain combined with howling winds as the game reverted to type, with few chances being created.

Aldershot looked the likelier to make something happen as Gregory cut an isolated figure up front, but the manner of the goal will have been particularly hard for Town to stomach as Craig Stanley’s free-kick near the touchline went straight in without a touch.

The weather was quickly becoming as influential on the contest as either team, with both sides needing to restrict their play to pitch level if they wanted to retain any control over where the ball went.

Even the floodlights were flickering under the strain as Town continued to be buffeted by the conditions as much as the hosts, but they survived the metaphorical and literal storm to hit back, again through Gregory.

Substitute Reece Gray slipped a cute through ball behind a static Shots defence and Gregory produced a delightful chip over Morris for his sixth goal in as many games.

Gray nearly completed a remarkable turnaround moments later when his prod towards goal was saved by Morris as the weather and Aldershot’s threat eased off.

Aldershot: Morris, Oastler, Barker, Roberts (Plummer 80), Gibbs, Molesley (Scott 89), Stanley, Rowlands (Oyeleke 75), Partington, Bubb, Williams. Subs not used: Webster, Williams.

Scorers: Roberts (45), Stanley (66)

Shots on target: 5

Shots off target: 6

Corners: 5

Halifax: Glennon, Challinor, Ainge (Worthington 7), Roberts, Maynard, Smith, Marshall, Pearson (Wilson 46), Clay, Jackson (Gray 81), Gregory. Subs not used: Senior, McReady.

Scorer: Gregory (34, 84)

Shots on target: 4

Shots off target: 2

Corners: 1

Attendance: 1,977

Town man of the match: Paul Marshall