Town boss happy as champions Chester are held

Neil Aspin
Neil Aspin

Neil Aspin was pleased with his players’ efforts as FC Halifax Town drew 1-1 with league winners Chester at the Shay.

Alex Johnson equalised for the Shaymen after Marc Williams had put Chester ahead early on, with the result meaning Town are probably set to face Guiseley in the play-off semi-finals next week.

The Town boss was happy with his team’s reaction to Chester’s sixth-minute opener, and is confident defenders Scott McManus and James Bolton can shake off knocks they took in the first-half.

He said: “I was really pleased with the performance. After going a goal behind, which we should have dealt with better, the players gave a really good account of themselves and we pushed forward well in the second-half.

“We’ve had a couple of really good saves towards the end to deny Chester but we’ve had chances as well and I think we were the better team in the second-half.

“In the four games we’ve played against Chester this season, I feel that we’ve been equal to them.

“That’s why I feel we have as good a chance as anyone in the play-offs because we’re certainly capable on our day.

“It’s fair to say that Lee Gregory and Dan Gardner will start in the play-offs, I don’t think there’s any secret about that, so I felt we should give our other forwards as much game time as we can this week.

“I also felt, in a home game, it wouldn’t have been appropriate to play the team we played the other night with all the changes, so we had to go a bit stronger but I’m reasonably pleased with the outcome.

“Scott McManus and James Bolton both took knocks and had to go off at half-time but I don’t think they’re anything serious.”

Johnson’s goal capped an industrious display from the striker as he notched his fourth league goal for the Shaymen.

Aspin said he and others in the squad can still play themselves into the reckoning for next week’s double-header against Guiseley or Brackley, but that he does have a starting line-up in mind.

He added: “For a young lad I thought Alex was excellent, his work-rate is tremendous, doing a lot of tracking back, he’s put in a hell of a shift and I’m delighted he’s got his goal.

“He’s got a lot stronger over the season the way he’s pinning defenders, and he’s a real handful at the moment.

“If he’s the man in form, he’ll have a chance of playing next week but there’s competition and that’s what we need going into the games.

“I’ve had a starting 11 in mind for a couple of weeks but that can change.

“Injuries dictate what you’re going to play and we’ve still got to negotiate Saturday’s game.

“Like I’ve said tonight before the game, there’s an opportunity for a player to play well and get into the team for next week.”

Updated Blue Square North top five:

1 Chester FC Pl 41 Po 104

2 Guiseley Pl 41 Po 91

3 Brackley Town Pl 41 Po 82

4 Altrincham Pl 41 Po 77

5 FC Halifax Pl 41 Po 75

Click on the multimedia link on the right of this page to see a picture gallery from the game - Photos by Jim Fitton.