FC Halifax Town: Ex-Town man Walker relishing Sunday’s winner-takes-all clash

Sam Walker in action for Halifax at home to Guiseley
Sam Walker in action for Halifax at home to Guiseley

Sam Walker says his Salford team are excited about Sunday’s play-off semi-final second-leg at The Shay and reckons they have what it takes to beat his former club.

Walker won the FA Trophy at Wembley last May to crown his only season with The Shaymen before joining Salford last summer.

He scored home and away against Town in the league this season and, following the 1-1 draw in the first-leg on Wednesday, is optimistic Salford can finish the job on Sunday.

“We’re excited because at this stage of the season there’s no room for nerves,” he said.

“If you’re nervous about playing in games like this, you shouldn’t be playing in games like this.

“You spend all day thinking about different scenarios and what can happen, but this is why you spend the full season and pre-season working so hard, to get to this point.

“You’ve just got to embrace it and enjoy the game.

“I’ve got confidence in my team-mates. I see what they do in training week-in, week-out and the demands are high.

“The chance of getting to a play-off final is massive, the demands from the managers is a lot, they ask plenty of questions about us.

“It’s a confidence you just have. We’re both good teams but there’s no point going to The Shay on Sunday and thinking ‘what if?’ - it’s a one-off game and you’ve got to go for it. It’s as simple as that.

“It’s winner takes all and I think whoever wins this game will end up getting promoted because I feel we are, with the exception of Fylde, the best two teams in the play-offs.

“It’s all set-up for a grandstand finish.”

Walker believes one moment of magic from either team could decide the tie.

He said: “At this level of football wanting to out-run your opponent and dominate them is massive. I always feel with games like this you’ve got to have a bit of magic. There’s going to be a piece of magic where somebody pulls something out of nothing.

“Look at Richard Peniket’s goal on Wednesday. The ball dropped on his weaker foot and he’s just let it go. Great finish, and that’s what it’s about, people taking their chances.

“For us, Pooley comes on, he’s that type of player where he’s articulate in the way he plays, he’s got flair, he expresses himself. He’s got himself into the right position and he’s pulled it out of the bag for us when we needed it.

“It’s whoever wants to step up and be a hero.”

Two of the three games between Halifax and Salford have now featured late equalisers, with Kevin Roberts scoring in stoppage time in the league game in September, and James Poole levelling late on in midweek.

Walker feels Poole’s goal on Wednesday could act as a spur for Salford going into the return leg.

“It can be a tool for us to use because when you look at the way the season panned out, the shoe was on the other foot because Kevin Roberts scored right at the death in the league game at our place,” Walker said.

“I remember when we conceded that goal and we were deflated. We are one of those teams where we don’t accept that we’re going to lose. We go right to the end so it could be something we look at and it gives us confidence if we are trailing in the return leg. We always know there’s a chance we can nick one in the last five minutes.”