"All the players are where they need to be," says Wild on preparations for play-off clash with Chesterfield

Town boss Pete Wild says his players are where they need to be in terms of preparation for tomorrow night's play-off eliminator against Chesterfield.

By Tom Scargill
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd May 2022, 2:01 pm

Halifax, who finished fourth in the National League, host seventh-placed Chesterfield live in BT Sport, with the winners then facing Solihull away on Sunday.

Wild says motivation won't be a problem for the game but is happy with how preparations are going.

"If you have to get players up for a game like this then we've got a problem haven't we," said the Town boss.

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Pete Wild. Photo: Marcus Branston

"Yes, I can see that in the tactical sessions over the last few days, all the players are where they need to be and I'm happy they're where they need to be.

"The players were off Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, they were back in Thursday and Friday, Saturday they were off and yesterday we trained at the university and stayed at a local hotel.

"We did some classroom work yesterday evening and revisited what we'd done well this year, showed some clips of stuff we'd done well and how we'd broken teams down, how we'd defended against teams, what we look like when we're at our best, how people can exploit us and how we need to stop that.

"We talked about moments of the game, about what we need to be. It was a good evening's work.

"We've been in today and now the lads can get back home and be fresh for tomorrow."

On his thinking behind the get-together, Wild said: "I think it breaks the monotony, it makes it feel like a big game in terms of hat it is, it breaks it away from the season and helps us celebrate the season, capture the good and the not so good things, and hopefully it gets them back in that mindset of what we need to be ahead of tomorrow.

"We tried to reflect and say 'that was good', but there's an air around the place of 'we've done well, it's been a good season, what will be, will be' - I was trying to get across to the players that it doesn't matter how well we've done against them this season, it doesn't matter about how good we've been at home, it doesn't matter what happened in the season, we want more.

"We want to give it everything we've got over these next three games, hopefully, and get over the line.

"We want more. I don't want people to think that getting fourth in the league is it. I want us to go for it, go and try and win the play-offs.

"That's got to be our aim. We've a one in six chance of winning the play-offs, we've got to take that as a realistic chance of getting through this."

Wild hopes the week or so of preparation ahead of the game will see his players be in a perfect place mentally, physically and tactically come kick-off.

"Tactically we've gone over all the moments of the game over the last four sessions, so we need to be at a peak tactically," he said.

"Physically it's very hard to be at a peak at this time of year with the rigour of the season, but physically hopefully some of that down time and the nature of the sessions has allowed them to be as prepared as they can physically.

"Mentally, we've been reminding them of what's got us here, the tactical things we've done on the grass, showing them doing it well and making sure our plan's robust for the game."

Wild confirmed that winger Jamie Allen won't be available for the game.

"We had him scanned again yesterday to see how he is and there's still a bit of a tear on the tendon.

"He's tried to get himself back but unfortunately he's not going to be fit enough.

"We're expecting Kieran (Green) and Woodsy to be fit, unfortunately Jay Benn's picked up a shoulder injury in training so he won't be fit.

"Summers and Bradbury are 50-50."

Wild says he knows his team for the game.

"Yeah, I'm happy. We've picked the team we feel can win the football match and I'm happy I've got a set of subs that can change the game if I need to," he said.

"What I would like us to be is at our brilliant best, when we're at our brilliant best we're a match for anybody.

"One thing we've seen against some of the bigger sides is that if we're half-a-yard off or we're not at our best or we don't have a few people available in key positions, we don't win football matches.

"We've had to work so hard for every goal we've scored this year and that's going to have to be the same tomorrow night."

Asked if he considered Halifax as favourites ahead of the game, Wild said: "I'd say its even because Chesterfield, across the season, have shown what a quality side they are.

"We've punched massively above our weight and been able to stay there all season.

"I'd say it's an evenly-balanced tie that could go either way and it'll be the team that implements their plan the best, that makes the least mistakes and takes their chances when they're afforded to them that will win the match."

On having home advantage for the game, Wild said: "You'd like to think a home game is an advantage. It comes with its own pressures, that everybody expects you to win at home.

"We've done so well there this year, we recruited to be better at The Shay and that's come off.

"So now we need to make sure we get the performance that the season's merited."

The tie will go to extra time and penalties if needed to decide the winner.

"Players have practiced penalties," Wild confirmed. "We haven't practiced them as a group, my thought-process on that is that we want to win the game in 90 minutes.

"The players were instructed when they came back in last Thursday that if they wanted to take penalties after training and practice their penalties, then that would be encouraged.

"But it would be completely up to them if they wished to do so."

Town should get their biggest crowd of the season tomorrow in what promises to be a highly-charged evening.

But Wild feels his side is capable of handling such an occasion.

"I think we've got the characters," he said, "you've seen that across the season when we've been away to some of these big clubs and how well we've done. Not in every big game have we done well, but we've stood up to the big crowds, we've stood up to the pressures that come with that.

"I think I've got a mixture of young lads who've aged and matured across the season, I've got a middle group of lads who are now leading the younger lads by example, and I've got my experienced boys who've been there and done it who know what it takes and whether they're on the pitch or not, will lead the group by example."

Follow all the action from the game tomorrow night with our live blog from the Shay on the Courier website, where there will also be an on-the-whistle match report and post-match reaction from the Halifax boss.

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