Sam Johnson thinks Sutton United will provide the ultimate ‘test’ for the FC Halifax Town back line as they look to keep a second clean sheet in as many games.
Billy Heath’s men had failed to keep the opposition at bay in 4 league matches before their 0-0 draw with Woking on Saturday, a run stretching back to their home stalemate against Wrexham.
Despite this, the goalkeeper is confident they have turned a corner and will be able to stop leaking goals at the back consistently as they prepare to travel down to the Knights Community Stadium.
‘I think it will a good test for the defence,’ Johnson began.
‘Sutton United are going to be a pretty good side, they are a team who have scored quite a lot of goals, so we are going to have to soak up quite a lot of pressure throughout the game.
’It should be a good test, but I think we can get in there, take the game to them and get the 3 points.’
After a solid start to the season the Shaymen have had to endure a rough patch of form. In their previous two defeats against Tranmere Rovers and Maidstone United alone, they conceded more goals than they did in their opening 8 fixtures.
In reaction to this, Heath reassessed how his side prepared and set up defensively against Woking in a bid to regain some of their early solidity, the success of which delighted the players, the shot stopper especially.
‘We were really happy with [keeping the clean sheet],’ the 24-year-old began.
‘The gaffer wanted us to go back to basics at the weekend and said first and foremost we are going to keep more clean sheets again.
‘At the start of the season we kept quite a few so it is good to get back to keeping those.
‘I think we just had a bad run of games. Obviously, we had some tough fixtures and we haven’t been as solid as we normally are,’ he continued.
‘I can’t really put my finger on what has been going wrong because we have kept the same team pretty much, especially across the back.’
The game at the MBi Shay Stadium last weekend saw the debuts for new loan signings Harry Middleton and Josh Clackstone, from Port Vale and Hull City respectively, as well as a first home start for Daniel Batty.
Former Valiant man Johnson said he was impressed by the 3 newcomers, but admitted not knowing much about Middleton, who has come from his old stomping ground.
‘I thought all 3 of [the new boys] did well to be fair, they looked pretty solid,’ he described.
‘We had a new right back [Clackstone] and I thought he played pretty well especially, but all three of them did well considering.
‘I hadn’t heard much about Middleton to be honest. I text one of my friends there asking what he was like and got a good report back saying he’s good on the ball and I thought he proved that on Saturday.’
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