ALMOST exactly a year to the day since leading North Ferriby United into the National League, Billy Heath will today look to repeat the trick with FC Halifax Town.
The Shaymen host Chorley in a play-off final that is expected to attract a bumper crowd to the West Yorkshire club’s home ground.
It would be a bigger achievement than probably getting up with Ferriby last year – just because we had a settled team for four or five years at Ferriby.Billy Heath
For Heath, victory would justify his decision to swap life in the fifth tier with Ferriby for a new start at Halifax after his side held their nerve in a penalty shoot-out victory over big-spending Salford City in the semi-finals.
“It would be a bigger achievement than probably getting up with Ferriby last year – just because we had a settled team for four or five years at Ferriby,” he said. “They knew exactly how the other players played. This season, we had seven players in the building and two were long-term injuries. We have rebuilt a full side.”
Halifax’s charge for the play-offs has been timed perfectly, the final nine games of the regular season yielding seven victories and 22 points.
Salford, bankrolled by several Manchester United old boys, then provided a formidable barrier to the final but Town prevailed at the end of a dramatic shoot-out.
“We showed huge character,” added Heath, who will assess the extent of Jordan Sinnott’s groin injury before finalising his starting XI against a team who finished sixth in the table. “The two legs were fantastic adverts for National League North. Salford pushed us so, so close. We edged it in the end and deserved to go through. Our home performance was really good.
“To then come through penalties and hold your nerve was a big thing. Our experienced paid off. Probably 90 per cent of our squad have played in a Wembley final or a play-off final or both. They have played in big games. Myself and Mark (Carroll, assistant) have also managed in big games for six years. But we have to play on the day, be resilient and strong.”