Why FA Cup heroes Halifax Town will not be diverted off route

AMID a hectic schedule of four games inside 12 days that is book-ended by FA Cup ties against Football League opposition, most managers would view a 500-mile round trip as the last thing the club needs.

Into the next round: FC Halifax Town celebrate victory over Morcambe.

FC Halifax Town’s Jamie Fullarton, however, does not agree. Fresh from masterminding Tuesday’s Cup replay triumph over Morecambe, he sees the weekend trek by road to Ebbsfleet United as a golden opportunity to guard against an ‘After the Lord Mayor’s Show’-type display.

“There is a confidence gained from not just winning in the Cup but also last Saturday in the league (against Dover Athletic),” the Scot told The Yorkshire Post. “But the key now is to channel and use it on Saturday by making sure the players are focused on Ebbsfleet.

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“A week is a long time in football so the focus has to be right. The advantage of this being a long trip is you have an influence over them for longer.

“We have them from Friday morning through to kick-off. You can’t control how the players think or feel but you can influence them as a staff.

“Come 3pm on Saturday, our thoughts have to totally be on Ebbsfleet. I let them enjoy the moment in the dressing room – they deserved that.

“But we also stressed the need for preparation, recovery, hydration and nutrition to start straight away. I wasn’t being a party-pooper but they needed to understand there is a responsibility to prepare for Saturday.”

The victory over Morecambe was the club’s first against League opposition since reforming a little over a decade ago. AFC Wimbledon await the West Riding club in the second round, as the live cameras descend on The Shay for a third time in the Cup.

Charlton Athletic and Bradford City both triumphed on those occasions in 2011 and 2014. The Dons will be expected to do the same, even allowing for their lowly status in League One.

But Halifax will go into the tie buoyed by the manner in which Morecambe were, first, held to a goalless draw by the seaside and then deservedly beaten.

Fullarton added: “It was almost a complete performance, but in two halves. In possession during the first half, we were excellent. Real clarity in what we tried to do and the players understood the game-plan.

“After half-time, as you would expect against a League team lucky to just be 1-0 down, they had an urgency and that meant the shift flowed towards them.

“But, without the ball in the second half, we were diligent and, to a man, contributed from front to back. Great credit to them all.”

Before attention can turn to the December 1 date with Wimbledon in front of the BT cameras, Halifax must first negotiate Saturday’s trip to Kent and then a home game with Barnet on Tuesday.

“The Cup allows you to pit yourself against teams from a higher league,” added Fullarton, whose side had gone 12 league games without a win before beating Dover last weekend.

“That is where the romance comes in. We are up against a League One club who have shown in the last round that they can go away to a team in a no-win scenario and come out on top. We will be guarding against that.

“That is three games away. We have two big games before then and our focus turned straight to Ebbsfleet after Morecambe.

“There is always a danger of complacency because players are human. It is something we guard against. It is how you use the Cup that is important. I am big on being task-focused. The task in hand, be that on the pitch or off it, the next thing is the most important thing.”