FC Halifax Town head into the final game of the season against Kidderminster Harriers at The Shay, with only one point needed to confirm Neil Aspin’s side a place in the play-offs.
Although having the advantage over both Gateshead and Braintree, the manager insists that his side are not guaranteed a place until the final whistle is blown on Saturday – and if things go Town’s way.
He said: “It is an important game to secure our place in the play-offs, to try and finish the season as high as we can and to keep our record at home which has been exceptionally good this season. On all three front, it is an important game for us.
“Until we are mathematically secure in the play-offs, we are not in the play-offs. At the moment we are in a strong position and were delighted that we are in this position, but I think that there are several reasons to the defeat at Southport. There is no major panic after winning nine out of the last 10 games, we just need to see if we can get energy levels back and play as we have done for the majority of this season at home.”
Halifax can still finish third in the table if three points are earned against Kiddy and if Grimsby drop points against Braintree. This weekend offers mouth-watering fixtures including Cambridge against Gateshead, meaning that the play-off positions are all but confirmed. Aspin is aware of what could happen, and is hoping that Halifax can do their job and finish the league fixtures on a high.
“I know what the figures are, but football is football. Until we are actually mathematically sure of anything you just get on with the next game. And that is what we are going to do.
“We have to try and win the game on Saturday to try and finish as high as we can. If we can get third spot, it will give us home advantage in the second leg, which I believe is worth getting if you can do that. As we know, last year we finished fifth and managed to get through. You just don’t know. The main thing is that we get in there. We need to get in there, look at who we are going to play and take it from there.”
The Shaymen head into the game following the defeat against Southport on Easter Monday, with the result putting an end to a ten game unbeaten run. Although ending such a streak, the manager is proud of his players and relishes the chance to have a break ahead of Saturday’s late kick-off.
“It has been very important (the rest). I think that after playing three tough away games, then playing Saturday and then again on Monday, it did take it’s toll both physically and mentally. It is nice that the players can have a little break going into Saturday’s game.
“We don’t have a massive squad. I could make changes but I need to see how everybody is tonight when we train, and then I will make the decision for Saturday.”
Last time round, The Harriers were victorious at Aggborough as they won 2-0 against Halifax. Goals from Joe Lolley and Michael Gash rounded off yet another disappointment on the road for The Shaymen. The result left Aspin puzzled, as the Halifax boss insists that back in September, Kidderminster deserved to be promotion contenders.
He said: “You have to say that the last time that we played Kidderminster last time, they were far better than us. I could never foresee a situation when we were playing them at the end of the season and we were ahead of them. On that night, they were better than us and deserved to win the game. Up to that point, they were probably the best team that we had played.
“We expect a tough game. We will be respectful of Kidderminster because of the way they played in the first game. They have good players and will be disappointed that they are not in the play-offs like ourselves. Most certainly, that was one of the most difficult games that we have played during the entire season.”
Throughout this season, 16 games have been conquered at The Shay, alongside five draws and one defeat – against Woking. Of Town’s 76 points, 53 have been earned at home, and otherwise known as a fortress. Aspin is extremely pleased with the home form, and thanks the supporters for their help throughout the campaign.
“The home form has been absolutely vital, because when we have been struggling away from home, it has been the home form that has kept this season together. It has kept us on track and has helped us to pick up the points. It has always been that good form throughout the season that has kept this season on track.
“When we could not win a game away, we were winning out games at home. That has given us the foundation and the platform to do well. It is a tremendous record to win so many games at home. It’s better to win the games at home in front of your fans, then win the games away from home. We are grateful of the home form,” he said.
The manager did not foresee a chance that his side could compete to make history, having already won three promotions within the space of four years. The play-offs were never a part of the plan, but Aspin is delighted to be in this position and hails the consistent performances from his players.
He said: “They have done fantastically well. Nobody would have expected us to be in the position that we are going into the last game. Certainly, I didn’t expect it. We would have been happy to just stay in the division, but as the season has gone on, the players have performed remarkably well and it is a credit to them. Not just them, to the club, the supporters and themselves. They have deserved to pick up the points that they have this season.”
Come down and support the players as they push to confirm their place in the play-offs. Kick-off commences at 5.30pm.
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