FC Halifax Town: Gateshead preview

Jim Harvey
Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey insists the return of Neil Aspin is of no importance to him ahead of Town’s eagerly-anticipated FA Trophy quarter-final against Gateshead at The Shay tomorrow (3.0).

Aspin will return to The Shay for the first time since being sacked by the club in September, with his Gateshead side in fifth-place having drawn at leaders Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Harvey admits Aspin’s involvement does add some added excitement for the Shaymen supporters, but is remaining focused on reaching the semi-finals.

“For the supporters it adds another dimension to the game,” said Harvey, “but for me I’ve just got to focus on getting our boys ready.

“It won’t matter to me who’s in the opposition dugout, I want to get a win.”

Harvey’s first game in charge after the departure of Darren Kelly was a 4-1 win at Gateshead, which kick-started the long unbeaten run under the Northern Irishman.

The Town manager feels it’s still too early to be thinking about a possible Wembley appearance, with the final sill two rounds away.

“We’ll talk about that if we can get through this round.

“At the moment, Gateshead’s going to be plenty difficult enough for us.

“We’ve had them watched. They’re a good all-round side and I don’t think their players have changed that much (from the previous meeting).

“Young CJ Hamilton, who was here, is there for them now.

“But we know their players and their style and they’re playing with confidence so it’ll be a tough game for us.

“But it’s not so much about them, it’s about us.”

Town played in front of their biggest home crowd of the season against Grimsby last weekend, and Harvey believes a similar atmosphere against Gateshead could help his team progress.

He added: “It was a great atmosphere last week and the support was terrific.

“They can play a really big part on Saturday.

“The noise and the atmosphere in the ground when the boys get behind us, the boys do respond to that, and that’s brilliant.

“It’s up to us to get out there and get them excited, give them something to shout about.

“If we can do that, get them on our side and create that atmosphere then it’ll help the boys respond and play even better.”

Town are yet to concede a goal in this season’s FA Trophy and have lost only once in their last 11 home matches.

Aspin has lost only three of his 16 games in charge, while Jim Harvey has lost only two of his 16 matches at the helm at The Shay.

Gateshead have lost only once in their last 11 games and have beaten Stocksbridge, Eastleigh and AFC Fylde so far in their run to the FA Trophy quarter-finals.

Aspin’s team have kept five clean sheets in their last eight matches, including a creditable goalless draw at Cheltenham last time out.

Striker Ryan Bowman is their top-scorer with 15 goals and has six in his last eight appearances.

Gateshead also have ex-Town forwards Jon Shaw and CJ Hamilton in their squad.

The Tynesiders’ last win at The Shay came in November 2000 when they beat Halifax 2-0 in the FA Cup.