Tom Scargill discusses FC Halifax Town before Saturday’s game…
Hi Tom – so how would you summarise Halifax’s season so far?
It’s been really good. They’re among the pacesetters in the National League and in with a chance of reaching the third round of the FA Cup. They just missed out on the play-offs last season and lost some important players over the summer but recruitment has been excellent and the players have performed brilliantly so far. They play an attractive style of football, work hard out of possession and have someone you may have heard of – goes by the name Billy Waters – who has been on fire in front of goal.
How’s their recent form been?
Really strong. They lost last time out against Wrexham but deserved to win it, hitting the post at one end shortly before Wrexham’s late winner. Before that, they’d won eight consecutive home games, as well as picking up four points from their previous two away games.
What’s been the highlights of the season up to this point?
The 7-4 FA Cup win over Maidenhead was simply astonishing. Every time I looked up from my laptop there was another goal! It was bonkers. I missed the 3-2 win at home to Notts County in October, another incredible game where Town were 2-0 down with 10 men but won 3-2! It’s been that kind of season so far, full of games where the fans are left thinking ‘could this be our year?’.
Who are the key players and why?
You probably don’t want to hear this but Waters has been a wonderful signing. He’s never stood still, always either chasing after the ball or making a run to receive it. And he’s been ice cool in-front of goal too. Kieran Green and Kian Spence have both been fantastic in central midfield too. Green offers terrific energy and tenacity, alongside the composure and passing range of Spence. They make a very good combination.
"They're behaving in exactly the way we're asking them to, they're giving us everything they've got"
Town manager Pete Wild says he wants more of the same from his players when they visit Torquay United on Saturday:https://t.co/RcbWbxsQZ1
Ex-Gull Billy Waters is having an excellent season for you (as already mentioned), how impressed have you been with him?
As I say, he’s been outstanding, a superb signing. Not many teams play with a 5ft 6in striker through the middle but he really fits in with Town’s style of play, which is short, sharp, quick passing, probing build up play, lots of movement and linking up between the front players. He really seems to be enjoying his football and has made such a difference to the team having a number nine who can finish off chances.
What do you think are their chances of promotion?
There were times last season when it looked nailed on that they’d finish in the play-offs only for them to miss out at the death, so I’m reluctant to nail my colours to the mast on this one, but if they maintain this form, or something close to it, then they’ll be in with a great chance of a top seven finish. Injuries were a problem last season but they have a deeper squad this time round. They play their football on the deck, very few high balls, so the pitches may be an issue through the winter if they start to get bobbly. But they’re definitely in with a chance of the play-offs, without a doubt.
Who’s the manager and how does he like to set the team up?
Pete Wild is in his third season in charge and has done a really tremendous job. He was a real breath of fresh air when he first came in and guided them to the play-offs in his first season. Last season there were some very high points and some pretty low points as they just missed out on the top seven. This season they have been a lot more consistent. He has made some excellent signings on a limited budget, and the team has a clear style of play that all the players are comfortable with and have bought into.
I would expect it to be the same side that started in their last two games – 4-2-3-1 – Johnson; Warren, Maher, Debrah, Senior;’ Green, Spence; Vale, Warburton, Slew; Waters.
Will many supporters make the trip down?
There are some fans who live down south who will make the shorter trip, as well as some of the amazing supporters who go to every game home and away. I would expect between 50 and 100.
What’s the main strengths of the squad?
I would say their identity and style of play – they are all square pegs in square holes, currently a settled starting 11 and all know their roles – and their work rate. Defensively they’ve been magnificent this season, keeping plenty of clean sheets and throughout the team, they work hard off the ball, playing as a real unit.
And finally, give us a prediction for the game at Plainmoor?
I think Town will edge it. It won’t be easy, Torquay have got some really good players like Lemonheigh-Evans and Little, but I can see Town winning it 2-1.