Just twelve months ago FC Halifax Town sat in fifth place in the Conference North on 75 points, 32 points behind runaway champions Chester. How the tables turn, literally.
Saturday’s games saw FC Halifax Town finally, mathematically secure their playoff spot in the Skrill Conference Premier, while the aforementioned Chester saw the drop. Only a year ago Town were set to face rivals Guiseley in the playoff semi-final, and in just one days’ time, The Shaymen will square off against long time league leaders Cambridge United as they look for promotion into the Football League.
Many fans believe that the best team to play in the semis would be Grimsby, with the Shaymen already carrying a 5-0 league aggregate over them this season. However, midfield master Matty Pearson would rather face the U’s: “If I could’ve chosen I’d have picked Cambridge because obviously we haven’t beat them this year.
“We are due to beat them, especially after the opening day of the season. We were unlucky against them at home and I think they’ve been on a bad run of form and we’ve picked up form so it’ll make for a good game.”
20-year-old Pearson may just have a point, Cambridge will be going into this game, armed with a poor run of form and weighed down by pressure. That pressure is a burden the Northern outfit do not have to bear going into such an important tie: “All the pressure is on them to beat us.
“There is no pressure on us to beat them so we are all going out there to give it everything, we have nothing to lose. We have got ourselves in this position when nobody expected us to be here and it’s a great opportunity to go out and play with no pressure.” Pearson said.
“Obviously Cambridge were top of the league and they lost out on that so that adds more pressure on them because they should’ve held onto that position. We’ve come from nowhere and got ourselves into the playoffs so it’s the two opposite side of how you can get into the playoffs.”
Fan favourite Pearson knows that the other semi-final provides yet another intriguing match-up but as stubborn as ever, he believes that it doesn’t matter who they play providing they get past the promotion favourites Cambridge: “that’ll be a good game, but I couldn’t honestly tell you who would win.
“There will be no favourites in the final, either way it’ll be two equally matched teams, I think with us against Cambridge they have to be favourites because of the points difference compared to the other three teams.
“But I’m not fussed about that, I’m focusing on what we can do to Cambridge and hopefully we can take either of them in the final.”
Something that gives any team an edge going into a game with such huge importance is confidence, and confidence is something that is currently oozing from the Shaymen dressing room: “It’s one of them, everyone says, imagine if we did it… but we can do it.
“We can get promoted which would be insane and credit has to go out to all the lads. If you look at Robbo (Marc Roberts) and Lois (Maynard) they’ve come from quite a few leagues down and made the step up and they’ve probably been our best players which is mad really if you think about it.
“But all the lads in general have been class and I think it’ll be great if we got there and showed everyone that we are actually good enough and the team we have are a good team.
“Hopefully, we’ll put it to bed on Wednesday, I’m going 3-0 and 0-0 at theirs!”
Get down to The Shay to give your team another edge, but if you can’t make it then you need not worry. The media team as always has you covered with live updates on Twitter @FCHTOnline and via the Shaymen Wall. You can also keep up to date by the minute with our live audio commentary and even watch the extended match highlights and exclusive post-match interviews following the game on Shaymen Player.
Read more posts by Kelly Gilchrist