FC Halifax Town: We must do better, admits McClelland

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Southport. Gareth McClelland

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Southport. Gareth McClelland

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Caretaker-manager Gareth McClelland admitted FC Halifax Town weren’t at their best after the post Neil Aspin era started with a 2-2 draw against 10-man Southport at The Shay.

Town were 2-0 down with 15 minutes remaining thanks to a Matty Brown own goal and a debut effort from Southport’s Cole Stockton.

But a double from top-scorer Jordan Burrow rescued a point for Halifax.

McClelland said: “I thought we were lucky, we didn’t play to our full potential.

“We need to be a lot sharper with the ball and ask more questions of the back four, especially when they went down to 10-men, I was hoping for a bit more.

“But they broke away twice, they got a bit of luck with the own goal and the second one was a mistake and we got punished for it.

“We’ve got a lot to look at and of work to do.”

McClelland was critical of Town’s hesitant play during the game.

He said: “We didn’t move the ball quick enough.

“Sometimes the weather’s got something to do with that, you become a little bit lethargic.

“If there’s a bit of rain and there’s tackles going then everybody’s a bit more switched on but obviously we can’t blame the weather, it was the same for both teams.”

McClelland defended Southport’s Mike Phenix, who was sent-off for a strong tackle on Town’s Connor Hughes.

“I thought it was a little bit harsh,” said McClelland. “It’ll be interesting to see it again on the DVD.

“Phenix is a hard-working boy and I don’t think he’s that type of player so that’ll be interesting to look at.”

The caretaker-boss praised Burrow’s contribution, and the impact of substitute Hamza Bencherif in helping Town to salvage a point.

“Jordan’s done really well,” he said. “He’s been a bit harsh on himself in the last couple of games, he felt he could have done a bit more.

“But his effort is fantastic and the attitude of the boys was really good.

“Hamza (Bencherif) was superb. He understood being on the bench but he came on and made an impact, I thought he did well.

“We needed that bit of support for Burrow. It was good to get the point.”

McClelland was assisted by Town’s head of youth development Steve Nichol, scout Mark Gould and former Winsford manager Eddie Haslam, who McClelland has known throughout his time in the game.

“Mark works for me and the club, his scouting is fantastic. He covers a lot of games and he’s got a very good knowledge, so it was good to have Mark here today,” he said.

“Eddie Haslam is someone I’ve worked with for a long time, he’s a very good friend; you want people you trust around you.

“He’s worked with me at every club I’ve been at.

“And Steve is someone I’ve got a good relationship with, we used to have good contests against one another when he was at Garforth.

“He’s done a really good job in the youth set-up and the link between the first-team and the youth-team is very good and that’s getting stronger.”

McClelland admitted it had been a “difficult” time after the departure of Neil Aspin, but said he is happy to stay on in his role at the club after a new manager is appointed.

He added: “It’s up to the new manager who he wants as head of recruitment. I’m employed by the club and I intend to be here until I’m told any different.

“But I really enjoy my job. I’ve been here four years and there’s a lot of players who’ve come through in that time and moved on.

“It’s just getting more difficult to replace them because there’s so many full-time clubs now with Cheltenham dropping down, Tranmere dropping down and part-time club moving down to the Conference North and Conference South.

“Lois did well for us, Marc Roberts, Dan Gardner, the list goes on. But a lot of league clubs are looking at that and having a gamble on Evo-Stik players and North West Counties players.”