FC Halifax Town: Johnson is my number one, says Heath

Halifax v Darlington. Sam Johnson
Halifax v Darlington. Sam Johnson

Town boss Billy Heath says loanee Sam Johnson is his first-choice keeper for now.

Johnson came back into the team for Saturday’s 4-2 win over Salford, having missed the previous three games with an ankle injury.

The keeper played on loan for Town from Port Vale last season, keeping a clean sheet in the FA Trophy final at Wembley, and returned for a second spell on New Year’s Day after failing to hold down a regular starting spot under Neil Aspin at Gateshead.

Steve Drench, who has made 28 appearances for Town this season, was named on the bench on Saturday, while Tom Nicholson was left out altogether.

When asked whether Johnson is now his first choice between the sticks, Heath replied: “Yes. Sometimes you make choices and that’s my choice at the minute.

“It’s a nice problem to have three good keepers - we’re blessed with that.

“Let’s not forget Tom Nicholson’s input into the season - he’s put in some big performances.”

When asked if he could keep all three keepers happy, and whether one may go out on loan, Heath replied: “Ask the players. It’s up to the players. If people aren’t happy and they want to go out, they’ll go out.”

Town’s squad was boosted by the signing of loanee Daniel Nti from York last week, who scored on his debut in the win over Salford.

“I’ve known him from when he was at Worcester,” said Heath. “He’s a good player, very direct, lots of pace.

“It was really difficult for him to come in because he only had one training session with us.

“But I thought in the second-half he did exactly what we know he can do.

“I don’t think anybody was better than him or worse than him in the first-half but if you get him the ball in the right areas, he’s got bags of pace.

“Michael Nottingham, the lad who was marking him, has been touted by league clubs. And Daniel caused him problems.

“And he’s got more to come, he’ll score goals.”

Heath says his squad is now the strongest it has been all season, and is not concerned about it being too big.

“This is the first time the squad is as it should be because we’ve had that many injuries and suspensions,” he added.

“If you’re going to compete in this league you’ve got to have at least 20 players who are Conference North standard or better.

“It’s the first time we’ve had anywhere near that.”