TT OPPOSITION Q&A
“Town’s performances haven’t had the results they’ve deserved“
Halifax Courier writer Tom Scargill discusses the Shaymen
Hi Tom, so how would you say FC Halifax Town and it’s owners have coped with this crazy year?
It’s been nuts hasn’t it. Right back early in the year there was all the uncertainty over whether the season would finish, and I think a lot of the Town fans were thinking how typical it was that the one season they get into the play-offs, it looked like the whole thing was going to be cancelled! There was a long, long wait to find out what would happen, and then the play-offs did go ahead but unfortunately Town lost at Boreham Wood.
Since then, Town have overhauled their squad and Pete Wild has been backed by the chairman in having a similar budget to last season, despite the enormous financial challenges the club has faced in losing their main income streams. Then the rug was pulled from under the club just before the season started when it was announced that fans wouldn’t be allowed into games. The club recently had a Covid outbreak among it’s squad and have seen two games called off due to outbreaks at upcoming opponents. So it has literally been one thing after another.
Have the supporters rallied around to help the club?
They responded really admirably to the club’s Project play-offs fundraiser, surpassing the target that was set to put towards the club’s costs of taking part in last season’s play-offs. When the club’s back is against the wall, the Town fans are always there to help, digging deep to give funding when it’s needed. And they’ve done as much as they could this season in terms of paying for live streams and coming up with ideas to raise funds for the club.
What were your expectations heading into the season?
At least a top-half finish, if not another play-off finish. Wild brought in some really good players over the summer like Jake Hyde, Luke Summerfield and Neill Byrne. I think they have a better squad than last season so there’s no reason why they can’t replicate how they did, despite a slow start.
How’s the team’s recent form been heading into Saturday’s game?
Their performances haven’t had the results they’ve deserved. They’ve not been brilliant, but they’ve created chances in every game and limited the opposition to not many, but just haven’t scored enough. Jake Hyde is now just coming up to full match fitness so he should add goals and has been a big miss so far in that respect.
What highlights have there been so far?
The opening day win over Dagenham was a very good performance, so that and Tuesday’s last-gasp equaliser against Notts County have been the stand out moments. There haven’t really been too many others because they’ve missed good chances in pretty much every game that should have resulted in more points.
Who are the key players and why?
Luke Summerfield has proved an excellent addition so far, central midfielder originally from Devon in fact, who sits in midfield and dictates play, always calm and composed on the ball but can pick out a pass too. Nathan Clarke, the captain, plays in the middle of the back three and has oodles of experience, excellent positional play and awareness and is strong and brave. Jake Hyde is expected to be a key man once he starts finding the net. Given his goal-scoring record for Woking over the past two seasons, hopefully that will be soon.
Who’s the boss and what tactics does he like to employ?
Pete Wild is now into his second full season at the club. Town have played 3-5-2 pretty much every game since a 5-1 thrashing at Stockport on Boxing Day last season prompted the change in formation. He wants his side to be aggressive and play quick, progressive football. They’ve competed well in each game – apart from a woeful 2-0 defeat at South Shield in the FA Cup – and should have more points than they do. They’ve been solid defensively and play decent stuff when the likes of Summerfield get on the ball, it’s just in the final third where they need to be more clinical.
You’ve been able to attend games, talk us through what the experience has been like?
Weird. I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right. Take Tuesday’s game against Notts County – big clubs, under the lights, the atmosphere should have been great, and especially when Town equalised in the fourth minute of added time, the roof should have been lifted off the place. It’s just very sad. I’ve likened it before in other articles to having a cup of tea without a biscuit. It’s still great to go to the games and I feel very lucky to be able to, but it’s missing something.
Who are the best teams you’ve seen so far, and who do you think will be pushing for promotion?
Notts County and Stockport were both very good sides. Some really good quality. What I think sets them apart from others is how comfortable they are in possession, how their players want the ball, how smoothly they move it across the pitch. Other clubs have looked nervous on the ball and hoofed it more, but the two County’s impressed me with their poise and style. But Town matched them both, so can take plenty of encouragement from that.
And finally, give us a prediction for the match between the Shaymen and the Gulls?
It’s a tough one. Torquay have been flying this season, fair play to them. I can’t see there being too many goals because I think both defences are very strong – I’ll go for 1-1.
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