FC Halifax Town: Maher happy to have been Town's middle man this season

Niall Maher
Niall Maher

While Town's back five have rightly taken the plaudits for the club's remarkable defensive record, Niall Maher's contribution has arguably gone under the radar.

The former Bolton and Bury youngster joined Halifax in March as a versatile central defender, but ends his first full season with the club an established central midfielder.

Only Sam Johnson (53), Nathan Clarke (53), Matty Brown (46) and Matty Kosylo (45) have started more games for Town than Maher (41) this campaign.

"It's been one of my best playing seasons," he said. "It's my first season where I've had 40-odd games.

"It's just about pushing on. The more games you play, you want to count yourself as one of the key players in the squad.

"This year I've adapted to a different role, I've taken it in my stride and I feel I've done really well. I've really enjoyed it.

"I've played in and out of central midfield since I was 17, and as I've got a bit older I've been trusted a bit more as a central defender and a full-back.

"I know I've got the attributes to play a bit further in advance. This season I feel like I've gelled in well from last season, and I've just given my all. That's all I want to do."

Maher worked with Town boss Jamie Fullarton when he was manager of Bolton's under 21 side, and feels the Halifax chief has faith in his ability.

"Obviously I've got a great relationship with the manager and I've earned his trust," Maher said.

"I've worked with him for three or four years now and we've got that relationship where he does trust me and he knows that wherever he puts me on the pitch, I'm going to do a job.

"I've chipped in at both ends of the field. We've got a lot of clean sheets this year, and maybe you don't get the credit you deserve when you're a holding midfielder because you're in the middle of the pitch.

"People don't see that, they tend to see the people that score goals or stop goals.

"But I've given my all just in-front of the back four. The lads and the manager have given me credit behind-the-scenes and that makes you feel good about yourself."

Town are in the same position, 16th, that they finished in last season ahead of their last game against Fylde on Saturday, and have one more point than last term.

"First of all, your main target is to get safe, and then anything else is a bonus," Maher said of Halifax's campaign.

"We had a good start to the season, and then we just didn't have that finishing touch n the middle part.

"But we're looking forward to next season now. We've still got Fylde to come but we're going to go there and try to finish on a high like we did at home against Wrexham."

Maher has been hugely impressed by loanee Devante Rodney, someone who he knows well.

"He's made a great impact," added Maher. "He's a great lad. I've known him since I was a bit younger because he's from the same area as me.

"We were in touch before he came here. He's great in the dressing room and hopefully we'll see what happens with him.

"I've always known about him, we used to bump into each other when we were growing up.

"He's settled in really well and he's done his career no harm by scoring like he has."