Following FC Halifax Town’s 1-1 draw against Doncaster Rovers, Kelly Gilchrist spoke to Nathan Clarke.
He said: “I think it’s gone very well. It was a fantastic workout, despite the disruption of not being able to play at the Shay. It hasn’t altered our attitude. We wanted to make it a professional game basically. We wanted to set up right from the first minute. The team has gone out and got as many minutes as they could.”
With Clarke helping Steve Nichol in managing the game, Clarke felt there were a lot of positives to take.
He said: “The lads always give 100 percent. I’ve just told them to go and enjoy it, it’s what we’re about. You can run all day, unfortunately I think it’s these games that give you the match sharpness. I’m glad we managed to get the game on, and it gave us a chance to have a look at one or two who were on trial.”
Being two leagues above, it was always going to be a tough test. Clarke was happy they fielded a competitive side which gave Town a good game.
He said: “I think they were just missing one or two up fronts. But certainly, in midfield and in the back, they were pretty much as they are. I thought we did well and certainly create on or two more opportunities in the first half. We pressed them well, we worked hard, and we were very organised.”
With the Shaymen creating several chances that just evaded the net, Clarke was pleased to see the team creating goal-scoring opportunities that tested the opposition.
He said: “They came from us being on the front foot. We were looking to break through the thirds. I think it was Cameron [King] that nicked the ball and drove forward. It was a good goal from Niall [Maher]. I think there were a couple of shouts for him not to shoot, but if you get the chance, test the keeper.”
Doncaster had to come from behind in the second half thanks to an Alfie May goal. Clarke felt the goal could have been avoided but they were always going to create chances.
He said: “Bit disappointed really, it was from our corner. We need to look at the set-up maybe, possibly wasn’t quite right. They’re good players. They were always going to have an attempt and unfortunately it went in.”
Clarke has had to step up since the departure of Jamie Fullarton. The last 24 hours have been busy but enjoyable for the defender.
He said: “It’s been quite enjoyable actually. Obviously, it was thrown out yesterday. I’ve been in contact with Steve [Nichol], who’s brilliant, and it’s worked quite well.”
The Shaymen have also had to rearrange the fixture with Darlington due to the issues with the pitch at the Shay. Clarke is hopeful the fans travel in numbers to see the new players.
He said: “We obviously wanted to be at home, and we want the fans to see the new lads. I still hope the fans do travel and try their best to get to the game. We’ll look to do something like today performance-wise. Be on the front foot and be exciting to watch.”
Doncaster are currently in league one, whereas Saturday’s opponents are in the Vanarama National League North. This will provide a different challenge to the Shaymen, one which Clarke feels will prepare the team for different challenges in the season ahead.
He said: “It’s something that you’ve got during the season. You want to be prepared and be ready to come up against certain teams that play different styles. Today, Doncaster get the ball well. We had to be disciplined. Saturday might be a different story. It might come a little bit more direct.”
With the veteran defender now 35, Clarke has applied for the job of manager. Having come back to his hometown club, Clarke is confident in his abilities to step up and take the top job.
He said: “It’s something I’ve looked into doing. I love the club and I’m glad I’ve come back to the club. I’m a Halifax lad. It’s something I’d be very interested in doing. With the guys help and support, I think it’s something that could work quite well.
Read more posts by Luke Davis