Danny Clarke says FC Halifax Town must be ready to battle in their Vanarama National League North game against Gloucester City, at the MBi Shay Stadium this Saturday, March 18 (3pm).
Town recorded their first win in three down the road at the Horsfall Stadium last Saturday, coming back from 1-0 down to run out 3-1 victors against Bradford Park Avenue. Prior to that, they had drawn 0-0 at home to Boston United and then come away with nothing from a midweek visit to Alfreton Town, as they lost 1-0. On the comeback win against neighbours Park Avenue, where goals from Richard Peniket, Tom Denton and Matty Kosylo sealing the points, Clarke was upbeat, saying:
“Going one nil down, normally you’d think we’d panic, but I think we just realised we were in a game. We kept battling until ‘Penny’ [Peniket] gave us a bit of magic, and I think after that the momentum was with us and we went on and scored more.
“Obviously before we’d had a couple of bad results, despite two good first halves, but I think the second halves let us down on both occasions. It’s good that we’re starting to see the strength in depth in the squad, like with ‘Dents’ [Denton] coming on and making an impact on Saturday; that was good to see.”
Regarding his own performances, Clarke acknowledged a sub-par start to his Town career but has begun to establish himself more in the team in recent weeks. He admitted: “Everyone could see that I struggled when I came in. I spoke to Billy on a couple of occasions about the role he wanted me to do; I was trying to do a role that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with for the good of the team but I lost my confidence a bit.
“Then Billy took me out of the team; which was probably for the better for me and the team at the time. Since then, I’ve got my head down in training and reminded him of what I can do in my more natural position and he’s put me back in.”
On what he regards as that more natural position, the 31-year-old said: “I just like being in the final third really. I leave the middle of the pitch to players like Jordan [Sinnott] and David [Lynch] who are more willing to play the ball about. I think the reason Billy tried me in that position was because when I was at North Ferriby at the start of the season we were backs to the wall a lot, doing a lot of defending, and I’d done an all right job, but obviously, the way we want to play at Halifax is different.”
Looking forward to the visit of the Tigers, who sit eight points behind the Shaymen, in 11th position, Clarke said he was expecting a tough test. “They’re always tough games against Gloucester,” he said. “And all the games are likely to be tough from here on in, with just ten games left. The more teams we can eliminate as we head towards the play-offs, the more it keeps our destiny in our own hands.
“A lot of these games are going to be scraps where you’ll be fighting people in and around the play-offs or fighting relegation, so it’s not necessarily going to be the team that will play the prettiest football that get where they want to be. It will be hell for leather, but if we’re scoring goals that will keep us and the fans happy.”
Clarke is still searching for his first goal for the Shaymen, having joined in November, but hopes it won’t be too far around the corner.
“I need to work on it,” he said. “I haven’t had too many shots but I’m getting in the right areas now and my confidence is back; where I might have passed, or crossed before I’ll be trying to drive into the box and get some shots off. It has been a confidence thing with me, but coming back into the team and having to prove a point to quite a lot of people has been good for me.”
“I think I’ve scored two out of the last three times I’ve played against Gloucester, so I’m hoping for that first Halifax goal this Saturday!”
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