FC Halifax Town v Chorley: Carver returns to The Shay a different person to teenage loanee

Halifax Town v Grimsby. Marcus Carver.
Halifax Town v Grimsby. Marcus Carver.

With Lee Gregory injured and Josh Wilson and Kevin Holsgrove suspended, Neil Aspin turned to 19-year-old Accrington Stanley youngster Marcus Carver in his search for a striker back in September 2013.

Carver is set to line up against Halifax for Chorley in Saturday’s play-off final, but back then the striker was fresh from scoring in Accrington’s shock 2-1 win at Middlesbrough in the League Cup, and made his Town debut in their 2-1 home win over Edgar Davids’ Barnet.

He then started in a 2-1 defeat at Forest Green before opening the scoring in the 4-0 win over Grimsby at The Shay.

After that, Gregory returned from injury and Carver was restricted to two further substitute appearances before his time was up.

“It was good,” reflected Carver, “I enjoyed it. It was my first time in the Conference National and it was good working under Neil Aspin.

“I was still a young lad but it gave me more experience of first-team football at that level.

“It was a good way of bridging the gap between League Two at Accrington and the Conference North, where I’d played with Barrow and the Evo-Stik with Marine.

“At that point in my career I’d not played five first-team games on the bounce before and it was the highest level I’d played at.”

Carver’s stint at Halifax was one of six loans in three seasons, but his spell at Chorley on loan under hero Matt Jansen was enough to convince him to stay there permanently.

“I didn’t stay at Accrington because I needed consecutive games in a team where I’d play numerous times, not to be shipped here, there and everywhere,” he said.

“I had a loan spell for three months at Chorley and the gaffer had such an impact on me that I signed for him last summer.

“Being a Blackburn Rovers fan he was one of my heroes back in the day and as a fellow striker he teaches you everything he knows.

“He’s still got the ability in his locker when he joins in training but you put a foot out of place he will tell you.

“I’ve not got the amount of goals I would’ve liked but I’m just glad to be playing games.”

Carver came off in the 75th minute in Chorley’s 2-0 semi-final second-leg win at Kidderminster with a tight hamstring, but if he does feature on Saturday, Halifax fans should expect to see a different player from the teenager who appeared for The Shaymen.

“I would say I’ve grown up in the past four or five years,” he added.

“It was hard to leave Accrington but I had to get out and get more games and more experience.

“I think I’m a better person now, I’m more mature, and possibly a better player.

“People might say four or five years ago I was scoring more goals but that was at a lower level.

“But I’m playing more consistently now, rather than being a one-game wonder where one game would be great but then after that you didn’t know which player would turn up. Now I know which player is going to turn up and what I’m going to do.”