FC Halifax Town: Forest Green Rovers preview

Jim Harvey
Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey’s unbeaten run as FC Halifax Town manager looks set for its sternest test yet with the visit of title-contenders Forest Green Rovers on Saturday (3pm).

Forest Green raced out of the traps by winning all of their first nine games, and are in similarly impressive form now having won six of their last seven games.

They are involved in a titanic tussle with Cheltenham at the top of the table, with Forest Green one point behind the leaders having played a game more.

No other team has won more league games than Ady Pennock’s side.

Veteran striker Jon Parkin is the club’s top-scorer with just 10 goals, but has scored just once in his last six games.

They will be without midfielder Sam Wedgbury who was sent-off in their last game at Wrexham, when they salvaged a last-gasp draw thanks to Brett Williams’ equaliser.

That means they have lost only once in the league in their last 14 outings.

Last season’s clash at The Shay, which saw James Norwood sent-off, ended in controversial circumstances as a mass brawl broke out between both sets of players and staff after the full-time whistle.

Forest Green’s only win at The Shay in their eight visits came back in March 2004 thanks to ex-Halifax striker Alex Meechan’s goal.

Waide Fairhurst made his debut in the win over Chester, and Harvey is optimistic the striker can make an impact at the Shay.

“He’s clever, he creates, he’s aggressive in his play and he can score goals,” Harvey enthused.

“But he needs a few games, he needs to get back on top of his fitness and get playing.

“He came in to train and I liked what I saw.

“He’s got a decent reputation, he did very well for Macclesfield last year.

“With Peni (Richard Peniket) trying to get his fitness back again we’re not entirely sure how he’s going to recover after his time out so it gives us an extra bit of experience and aggression in the side.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he does develop between now and the end of the season.

“But I’ve seen him in training and I think there’s a lot of talent there.”

Harvey was in charge of Rovers for three years between 2006 and 2009, leading them to safety after inheriting a team bottom of the table with two points from their first six games.

He then achieved an eighth place finish in the Conference in his first full season as well as a third round FA Cup tie at home to Derby and an appearance in the final of the now-defunct Conference League Cup.

Harvey has fond memories of his stint at the club, adding: “It was good, I enjoyed it.

“But it’s a different place now. I was working under a budget of around £300,000 and now they’re talking about £1.3m plus, so it’s a whole different ball game to what I was used to.”