Town boss left cursing his luck

Neil Aspin
Neil Aspin

Neil Aspin says the luck wasn’t on his side after his FC Halifax Town team drew 1-1 in their play-off semi-final, first-leg at the Shay.

Town took the lead through a Dan Gardner penalty, but the Town boss said his team should have been given another spot-kick for a foul on Lee Gregory and that Guiseley shouldn’t have been awarded the free-kick that led to their equaliser.

He said: “I’m really pleased with the players’ performance. I thought they handled the occasion well, played at a good tempo and I can’t criticise them at all.

“It’s a game we should have won but haven’t, a game we’ve not won at home and you do scratch your head and say to yourself ‘why?’ because everything’s been good about the performance.

“When are we going to get some luck? This game could have been out of sight but it’s not and that’ll give Guiseley a lot of heart for Saturday but we’ve got to go again.

“I expected the players to be up for it and I knew we’d be better than we were on Saturday. I can’t fault the players’ attitude or commitment,

“I thought they played some good football at a good tempo, which I like to see. They pressed, gave Guiseley no time on the ball. We were very, very unfortunate not to win the game

.”The players have done everything I’ve asked and I was proud of the way they played. I enjoyed watching the game and I think it was a good advert for non-league football.

“You want to put on a good performance and show you can play football and the players did that.

“Dan showed a lot of bottle with the penalty and then to have to re-take it knowing our failure from the penalty spot, you wouldn’t have fancied him when he had to re-take it, but he showed a lot of character and he stuck it away well.

“I think we should have had another penalty and I don’t their goal should have been a free-kick. The whole season rests on the big decisions but you’ve just got to get on with.

“You can’t legislate for what decisions are given against us but I felt we should have had another penalty and their free-kick that led to the goal shouldn’t have been given.”

The performances of youngsters Alex Johnson and Matt Pearson were a particular highlight for the Shaymen, with Pearson putting in a man-of-the-match display at the heart of the Town midfield.

Both could well keep their places for Saturday’s second-leg, and drew special praise from their manager.

Aspin said: “In terms of his attitude, Matt is top class, but he’s got ability, he’s strong - he’s just like a man out there.

“You sign some players on loan and you’re wondering if they’re going to be as committed as other players but his performances have been tremendous. “I thought Alex was excellent and certainly the Guiseley defenders knew they were in a game with him.

“He works his socks off and I’m really pleased with his performance. I thought he handled the occasion well. We’ve been slow with the number of games we’ve given him but he’s had his chance towards the end of the season, he’s taken it and I thought he was excellent.”

The Town chief also confirmed that he should have no new injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s second-leg.

Aspin said: “Chris Worsley got a knock, Lee Gregory had a knock as well and Dan Gardner had a bit of cramp, but he’ll shake that off for Saturday and we hope the other two can be fit for Saturday.”

Click on the multimedia link on the right of this page to see a picture gallery from the game - pictures by Bruce Fitzgerald.