FC Halifax Town v Gloucester preview

Football - Bradford Park Avenue v FC Halifax Town
Football - Bradford Park Avenue v FC Halifax Town

FC Halifax Town kick off the first of two games in four days when they host Gloucester on Saturday (3pm).

Halifax are fifth in the National League North, but could go as high as second if they beat Gloucester and then Gainsborough at home on Tuesday, depending on other results.

There are some crunch games at the weekend, with leaders Fylde hosting third-placed Kidderminster, second-placed Salford at home to sixth-placed Stockport and fourth-placed Chorley at Harrogate, who are 10th.

Then on Tuesday, Fylde host Stockport, Salford host Chorley and Kidderminster are at Tamworth, who are eighth.

All of which could see Town take advantage of their play-off rivals dropping points.

Gloucester are eight points adrift of the top-five having played a game more than Halifax.

Town boss Billy Heath is confident his players are made of the right stuff to finish in the play-offs, saying; “This is where we find out a lot about the players and find out what they’re made of. You’ve got to have character and strong-minded players. It’s not about who is the best team, sometimes it’s about who has that desire and who finds a way to win - that’s the key.

“We have people who are winners, lads who have won things over the last four or five years.

“I was pleased with the second-half at Park Avenue and the way we managed the game. When we’ve gone behind we’ve tended to panic and make wrong choices but we kept going, did the same things as before, and if you do that you get your rewards.”

Striker Richard Peniket will miss the next three games through suspension, leaving Adam Morgan and Tom Denton as Town’s only recognised forwards.

Heath says Josh Macdonald is still another month away from fitness, but that Danny Clarke should be available despite suffering a thigh strain at Bradford Park Avenue.

Jake Hibbs cannot be recalled from his loan at Park Avenue, while Heath says Scott McManus isn’t quite ready to join in full training yet.

Luke Hopper is Gloucester’s top scorer with 15 league goals. Gloucester have won just once in their last five games following a run of four straight wins, and drew with Harrogate last time out.

Goals from Alex Simmons and Liam King helped Town beat Gloucester 2-0 in the reverse fixture back in October.