FC Halifax Town: Harvey’s approach is paying dividends, says Walker

Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. Sam Walker
Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. Sam Walker

Midfielder Sam Walker believes interim manager Jim Harvey’s back-to-basics approach is paying dividends with The Shaymen.

Halifax are still unbeaten under Harvey, having beaten Gateshead and Dover and drawn with Guiseley - the first time they’ve gone three consecutive games without defeat this season.

The draw against Guiseley was thanks to Walker’s late free-kick, his third against The Lions this season, and he believes Harvey is getting a response from the squad.

“As a manager he demands everything and he sets very high standards” Walker said.

“If you’re not meeting them you’re going to know about it.

“He’s done a lot of work defensively, not just with the back four but collectively.

“Everyone from back to front has been working on that.

“Organisation has been key to the last three results.

“We’ve stripped it right down, we’ve said ‘let’s keep it simple’ and it’s worked for us.

“I think you can see from the results that he’s got a response.

“We’re just carrying on regardless, listening to what we’re being told on the training pitch and kicking on.”

Walker admits the new-look Town squad took a while to acclimatise to each other this summer, but says the squad are confident about beating the drop.

“You’re bringing players in who have played against each other so there’s a bit of familiarity but there’s other players coming in that people don’t know a lot about,” he said.

“In pre-season it’s very much thinking about getting yourself right, getting fit, and then before you know it the season’s upon you.

“I didn’t think we gelled as much as we wanted to.

“I don’t know what it is, I can’t put my finger on it, but it just seems like it’s all coming together a bit better.

“I’m confident we can stay up and I don’t think there’s anyone in that dressing room who thinks we’ll go down.”

The ex-Curzon skipper is cautiously optimistic about their prospects and insists the mood is positive.

“It’s really good, it’s lifted,” he said.

“In all fairness, the mood has been pretty upbeat to say we’ve took some hard defeats this season.

“I think that’s credit to the mental strength of the boys, but it’s a nice place to be at the minute to be three unbeaten.

“We’ve been scoring and conceding less so everything’s moving in the right direction.

“I’ve made the mistake of saying we’ve turned a corner before but that was after one or two games.

“I think you can see there’s more of a change so hopefully we’ve turned a corner and now it’ll keep getting better and better.”

Two of Walker’s three goals against Guiseley have been free-kicks, with his other set-piece coming in the 2-2 draw in the FA Cup at the Shay in October.

On his goal last Saturday, Walker said: “It got a deflection but I’m definitely taking that, it looked like it was on target anyway - we won’t let that spoil it.

“That’s three in three against Guiseley now. I wish I could play them every week!

“I practice free-kicks in training but it’s always been in my game.

“Whenever something like that comes up around the area I’m definitely going to be getting on it.”

Walker has started just eight games so far this season, and admits a sense of discontent when summing up his campaign to date.

“Frustrating, very up and down,” he reflected.

“You’ve just got to keep going, keep trying to do something that’s going to get you a start.

“It’s never going to be easy but nothing worthwhile is, so you just have to keep plugging away.

“I felt I was given a fair chance under Darren Kelly, I thought he gave me a run of games and I scored a couple of goals in that.

“Before and after that it’s more stop-start, but you’ve just got to prove your worth.”

Walker could have joined headline-grabbers Salford City during the summer on a more lucrative deal, but insists he has no regrets in opting for Halifax instead.

“In hindsight anyone could say that after the run they’ve been on, getting on BBC Two on two Friday’s,” he said.

“But no, I’m happy here. There’s a good group of lads here and I feel really settled.

“I’m not the only one in that boat, although it’s taken a while for everyone to settle down and work each other out.

“I think there’s plenty of good things still to come from this group of players.”

Walker says the league remains the priority for Town, but that a run in the FA Trophy, starting at home to Tamworth tomorrow, would be welcome.

“You just want to carry on doing what you’ve been doing in the last three weeks,” he said.

“Now we’re looking to Saturday and the FA Trophy.

“Tamworth are going to come here and give us a really good game so it’s all our minds focused on that now.

“If we get a cup run, we’ll take it, but obviously the league is our bread and butter.

“But rather than looking at it as a cup competition I think we’ll just be looking at it as the fourth game in a run and can we get a positive result, try and try to get a clean sheet.”