FC Halifax Town v Braintree: Walker confident Halifax can secure salvation at The Shay

FC Halifax Town's Sam Walker
FC Halifax Town's Sam Walker
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ROCK-BOTTOM of the National League and with more than half-a-century of goals already conceded this term, FC Halifax Town are deep in the mire.

Even the bounce that can often accompany the appointment of a new manager has failed to materialise for the Shaymen, who have lost five of six league games under Darren Kelly.

Salvation, however, may come via a quirk in the fixture list that means six of the club’s next eight league games are at home.

Today, Braintree are the first of those half-dozen visitors due at The Shay in the next seven weeks and midfielder Sam Walker believes Halifax can take advantage to breathe fresh life into the season.

“It is difficult being in this position,” said the 28-year-old, a summer arrival from Curzon Ashton. “But the mindset is that we are going to get ourselves out of this.

“There is a real chance now with all these home games. We have to get a run together before Christmas to put us in a position going into the New Year where we can get out of this.

“The mindset is that we will not get relegated. That is how it has to be. Everyone is giving their absolute maximum.”

Much has changed since Braintree’s last visit to The Shay on February 21 this year. A last-gasp winner from Jamie Jackson left Halifax seventh in the table and four points adrift of Forest Green Rovers in the final play-off place.

Halifax having four games in hand on the Gloucestershire outfit suggested Aspin’s men were destined for a second successive appearance in the top five.

Those hopes, however, were subsequently dashed by a shocking run-in that saw just one win claimed from the final 14 games that followed Jackson’s winner against Braintree.

This season, that downward momentum has continued to such an extent that Braintree return to The Shay with Halifax having won just twice all season and now effectively 10 points from safety thanks to such a wretched goal difference.

Walker added: “Everyone is willing to work as hard as possible to get us out of trouble. I can guarantee that.

“It was nice to be involved in the FA Cup first round (last weekend when Wycombe Wanderers triumphed 4-0 at The Shay) but we have put that to bed now. All eyes are back on the league and we are ready to turn it on and get ourselves out of trouble.

“The manager is positive and he has lifted the lads since he came in. He is a really good man-manager.

“He is trying to make us play the way he wants us to play, which is moving it fast with short, sharp passing. Game by game, I think you can see that is developing more and more.

“It is important we all stay upbeat. He does a great job of that.”

Among the sides scheduled to visit The Shay between now and January 2 are Braintree’s fellow promotion hopefuls Dover, Wrexham and Tranmere plus neighbours Guiseley.

Clearly, therefore, Halifax are going to have to dig deep to realise Walker’s stated intention of being in a much healthier position come the New Year.

“We can do it here at The Shay,” said Walker, who arrived at Halifax fresh from helping Curzon Ashton to promotion from the Evo-Stik Northern Premier Division.

“You heard the fans against Wycombe, even when we were losing and going out of the Cup, they stuck right behind us. Even at 3-0 and 4-0, they never stopped chanting.

“I thought the fans were brilliant. It was a massive boost to hear that support. It is difficult at times but, knowing the fans are right behind us, is a boost. We will do our utmost to reward that support.

“We are all in this together. We all want the same goal, to get out of trouble. We are not in a position we want to be in but everyone is pulling together.”

As for that 4-0 exit to Wycombe, Walker insists there were grounds for optimism despite the comprehensive look to the final scoreline.

“There was plenty to take from the game,” he added. “For an hour, we played some really good stuff and moved the ball quickly.

“We were getting in down the sides of Wycombe with Jordan (Burrow) causing them trouble. It was just a shame we couldn’t get that goal at 1-0 that would have allowed us to kick on and really put them under pressure.

“You can’t lose sight of what a good side Wycombe are. That is why it ended up 4-0. We pushed forward in the later stages and got hit on the break by a good team who were clinical.”