FC Halifax Town: Drench disappointed to lose number one jersey

FC Halifax Town v Sheffied United. Steve Drench
FC Halifax Town v Sheffied United. Steve Drench

Steve Drench admits he is disappointed about the circumstances of being dropped as first-choice keeper by Billy Heath.

The Halifax stopper joined from National League side Guiseley in the summer and was almost an ever-present until loanee Sam Johnson was signed and made his debut on New Year’s Day against Darlington.

Since then, when fit, Johnson has been between the sticks and Drench has been relegated to second choice, something which he believes isn’t a fair reflection on his performances this season.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “I was a big part of the team that reached the second round of the FA Cup, the furthest the new club has gone in the competition.

“I left somewhere I loved being at in Guiseley, I enjoyed myself for six years there and moved to a club I thought was a great fit for me. I was touted by the manager and others at the club in pre-season as one of the best keepers in non-league and now I’m being told I’m not good enough in a round-about way.

“But it’s his decision - he has to live or die as a manager by those decisions.

“If you’re off-form and conceding goals then you hold your hands up and say ‘fair enough’. You might not like it but you understand it.

“I played with a bad hamstring for six weeks before the Darlington game on Boxing Day, but I didn’t want to let the team down.

“But in the end me soldiering on for the team has shot me in the foot and has been my downfall. If I hadn’t been injured I think I’d still be playing now. That’s taught me that you have to look after yourself first as a player.”

Drench retains belief in his abilities to hold down the number one jersey at the club, but knew his status as first choice was up when Johnson arrived.

“I’ve got nothing against Sam, he has been brought in to do a job for the team,” Drench said.

“When he was signed I put two and two together and got four. He came in from a higher league club where it didn’t work out for him at Gateshead, so he’s not going to drop down another division just to sit on the bench.

“I thought my form over the last two months had been really good, I felt I had settled in and was playing well on a consistent basis.

“The results were a bit patchy but my performances were of a good standard.

“Sam did well for Halifax last season and helped them win the FA Trophy - if it’s a choice between him, who won the Trophy, or Steve Drench who was at Guiseley, regardless of form, I’m not going to compare.

“Sam hadn’t played for the last three months whereas I had been playing week in, week out and was in good form.

“I’d say I’m more of an all-round keeper than Sam. He is bigger than me but I feel I bring more to the table with my distribution, my shot-stopping, my organisation and my communication.

“People might say Sam is better at dealing with crosses because I’m smaller. I’ve always had that levelled at me, but just because you’re taller doesn’t mean you’re better at crosses.

“I’ve won promotion from this division before and been named in the team of the year four times - it’s never been an issue.”

Drench is pragmatic about his situation, and is focusing on winning back his place in the team if given the chance.

“It’s annoying but the manager has made his decision and I can’t alter that,” he added.

“If it had been a few years ago it probably would have affected me more.

“I didn’t come to Halifax to earn more money - it was closer to home, it fitted it better with my university degree and my family.

“But the manager has to put a team together he feels will give the club the best chance of getting promoted. If I’m part of that, brilliant, if not, then so be it - it’s as simple as that.

“I need to make sure I train right and prepare right so that if I’m called upon I can do a job.

“I can shout and scream all I like but it won’t do me any favours. It is what it is.”