2015/16 season review

FC Halifax Town manager Neil Aspin brought in a number of new faces at the start of the season, including striker Jordan Burrow and defender Hamza Bencherif. The season got off to a poor start though, with the club losing their first four games in the newly renamed National League.

After accumulating just five points from the first 10 games, ending with a 2-1 defeat against Guiseley, Aspin was sacked. He had served the club for six years, helping Town climb from the eighth tier to the fifth. Aspin was replaced by Darren Kelly, who had recently been sacked by League One team Oldham Athletic. His time at the club was disastrous however, as Town lost six of the seven matches he took charge of.

Of these six defeats some were humiliating, including a 7-0 away loss to Grimsby and a 7-1 home loss against Cheltenham. The Shaymen were also eliminated from the FA Cup, as they lost 4-0 at The Shay to League Two side Wycombe Wanderers. They sat rock bottom of the National League with just 10 points from 20 games. Kelly was therefore sacked and replaced by his assistant Jim Harvey on a caretaker basis. Harvey’s appointment saw an upturn in results as Town went on a 10-game unbeaten run, including a 4-2 win over Gateshead and a 4-2 win against high-flying Dover.

After just eight league games under Harvey, Town were out of the relegation zone, leading to him being appointed on a permanent basis. A remarkable run in the FA Trophy followed too, as Harvey’s men overcame Tamworth, Barrow and Chester to reach the quarter-finals. A draw at Gateshead saw a replay at The Shay finish 2-2 after extra-time and force a penalty shootout, to which The Shaymen won 5-4.

Town faced Nantwich in the semi-final, beating them 6-4 on aggregate to book a first ever appearance at Wembley where they would meet Grimsby Town in the final. The great cup run took its toll on league form though, as Halifax won just twice in 10 games to drop back into the relegation places with just three games to go.

After two vital wins over Altrincham and Boreham Wood, The Shaymen were once again out of the relegation zone going into the final day, and a win at the Shay against Macclesfield would secure safety. It wasn’t to be though, as Town could only manage a 1-1 draw despite taking the lead, and with other results going against them were relegated back into the National League North.

Despite the devastation of relegation, The Shaymen were able to end the season on a positive note, as they were crowned champions of the FA Trophy, beating Grimsby 1-0 at Wembley in front of a crowd of more than 10,000 Town fans, with left-back Scott McManus scoring the only goal. The cup win capped off a bitter-sweet season for Town, as they ended the season relegated yet cup winners.

Players: Sam Johnson, James Bolton, Scott McManus, Kingsley James, Graham Hutchinson, Hamza Bencherif, Danny Hattersley, Dino Fazlic, Jordan Burrow, Sam Walker, Jodran Porter, Richard Peniket, Matty Brown, Kevin Roberts, Jake Hibbs, Josh Macdonald, Waide Fairhurst, Connor Hughes, Jack Bradley, Elliot Harrison, Nicky Wroe, Shaw Mcdonald

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