FC Halifax Town: Roberts expecting a tough battle at Salford

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Curzon Ashton, at the MBI Shay Stadium. Kevin Roberts
Actions from FC Halifax Town v Curzon Ashton, at the MBI Shay Stadium. Kevin Roberts

FC Halifax Town captain Kevin Roberts is under no illusions about the difficulty of the task against Salford in the play-off semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Salford have lost just once at home in the league all season, and go into the clash on the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Darlington.

“It’ll be a very difficult game,” Roberts said. “We’ve had two very close games against them this year.

“They’re going into it on form like we are. They beat Darlington 5-1 on Saturday so they’re flying going into it, and we’re in good form. It will be a difficult tie.

“We’ve definitely got to be on it, especially after they won 5-1 at home. They’re going to be absolutely buzzing, so I think we’re just going to have to sit tight for 30 minutes, settle the game down and then get into it ourselves.”

Town drew 2-2 at Salford before beating them 4-2 at The Shay this season, with only Fylde and Darlington scoring more than the two teams in the division.

“There’s been a lot of goals between us, so it’ll probably end up nil-nil!” joked Roberts.

“I think I’ve been involved in six goals over the two games so I hope that’s not the case, I’d rather just stay out of it if I’m playing.

“We’ve just got to do what we have been doing in the last few games. We’ve played well, played some nice football at Harrogate and ground it out at Chorley, which is the only way you can do it on a pitch like that against a team ike that.

“We matched them up and I thought the back five were superb, especially the three centre-backs.

Asked whether playing the home leg second is an advantage for Halifax, Roberts replied: “I think it does help, but going away on a midweek night match is always difficult, more so than on a weekend, so I wouldn’t say it’s a big advantage. Maybe a slight one, but you have to look at it as two games. There’s no away goals. We’ll go there to try and get a win but I think a draw would be a good result as well, then try and beat them at home.”

The Town skipper was impressed by Salford when playing against them this season, but feels The Shaymen’s defence is in good shape prior to the contest.

“I thought they were strong,” Roberts said of Salford. “They passed the ball well, they have a few good footballers like Sam Walker, who we had last year.

“They have got threats all over the pitch, so we’ve just got to try and nullify them, especially away from home.

“We’ve said all year that if we keep clean sheets, we normally score goals and win games so we’ve got to be nice and solid like we were at Chorley.

“I don’t want to jinx it but if we can keep a clean sheet we normally do nick a goal.

“In the last two months we have been pretty strong at the back. At the start of the season we were leaking goals. It’s the same lads playing but I think it was just a case of the lads getting used to each other and how the gaffer wanted us to play.

“But we’ve had a number of clean sheets in the last two months, which is what you need if you want to be getting promoted.”

Halifax go into the game with three consecutive wins and three clean sheets, and have won seven of their last nine league games, and Roberts believes they have got better as the season has progressed.

He added: “I remember saying before Christmas we’d hit our best form after Christmas. It was a totally new squad that was brought in, loads of new faces, even though a lot of them did come from the same club.

“It does take time to gel, whereas the likes of Fylde and Kidderminster had pretty much the same squad and just added to them.

“But I did have a feeling that come January, February time, we would show our best form, and that is the case.”