FC Halifax Town Season Review 2018-19

FC Halifax Town
FC Halifax Town

It's been a season of extremes in many ways for FC Halifax Town, despite the fact they finish the campaign in the same position as last term.

Sixteenth represents a creditable finish with some encouraging signs to build on from a season of ups and downs.

There was the extreme of going from a stirring, rousing win over League Two Morecambe in the FA Cup to a dismal, depressing 4-0 thumping at Ebbsfleet four days later.

There was the extreme of coming within a stoppage time equaliser of beating Leyton Orient one Saturday, to slumping to a 3-0 defeat at Maidenhead the next.

There was the extreme of twice battling back for a point at Bromley one Saturday to succumbing meekly to a 3-0 defeat at Aldershot the next.

There was the extreme of drab draws against lowly Braintree and Aldershot to hugely impressive wins over promotion-contenders Solihull and Harrogate.

And how about going from not scoring in nine hours of football to not conceding in more than eight? It's been that kind of season really.

Not to begin with it wasn't though. To begin with, Town were flying, winning five of their first seven games with new signings Jonathan Edwards, Nathan Clarke, Dayle Southwell, Cameron King and Jordan Preston all finding the net.

Jamie Fullarton ended August as manager of the month with his team top of the table.

The subsequent slide down the league was gradual, with admirable draws against Sutton, Wrexham and Leyton Orient before their 3-0 humbling at Maidenhead.

Things were more inconsistent after that, with draws against Fylde, Solihull and Bromley mixed in with awful performances in defeats against Aldershot, Eastleigh and Havant and Waterlooville.

Town needed a replay, after a get-out-of-jail goal by Matty Kosylo in the first game, to get past Warrington in the FA Trophy in October.

A much-needed win against bottom-side Dover in November ended Town's miserable run of 13 league games without victory, before Morecambe were thrillingly swept aside in the FA Cup after a draw first time round.

Inconsistencies continued with the 4-0 drubbing at Ebbsfleet before honourable defeat to AFC Wimbledon in the cup.

There were draws against Dagenham and Redbridge and Boreham Wood either side of an FA Trophy win in the bleak mid-winter of Barrow.

A fine comeback victory at Harrogate on Boxing Day preceded perfectly acceptable 1-1 draws at Gateshead and at home to Harrogate.

But a run of nine games without a win had kicked in, one that included good results (draws with Solihull, Barrow and Salford) and bad (defeat at Chesterfield and home draws with Aldershot and Braintree) with only four goals scored.

Town's FA Trophy run was also ended at Solihull in January, but the winless streak was mercifully ended by the glorious sight of Scott Quigley's first goal in eight games to seal the 1-0 victory at Maidstone in February.

And barring grossly underwhelming displays in home games with Havant and Waterlooville (0-0) and Maidenhead (0-1), Town didn't look back.

The return to the side of Stevenage loanee James Ferry and the additions of Cheltenham's Manny Duku and Salford's Devante Rodney helped spark Town to life as they beat Eastleigh, Barnet and Solihull with style at the start of March. This was more like it.

A woeful display in defeat to Maidenhead preceded a gutsy but ultimately gut-wrenching 2-2 draw at Leyton Orient, and defeat with a whimper at Hartlepool was followed by excellent back-to-back wins over top-seven Wrexham and Fylde.

Duku and Rodney's pace, movement and energy added a new dimension to Town's game from February onwards.

They undoubtedly fall into the 'success' category of Fullarton's signings, along with Nathan Clarke, Cameron King, Jacob Hanson and Josh Staunton.

But the likes of Sanmi Odelusi, Jonathan Edwards, Mekhi McLeod and Simon Lenighan simply didn't work out, with the latter prompting a backlash from some supporters.

Skipper Matty Brown again led by magnificent example, while Sam Johnson produced some outstanding performances between the sticks; both contributed massively to Town's terrific defensive record.

Optimists will point to that record, results against the top sides and the signings of Hanson, King, Clarke and Rodney as reasons to be cheerful.

Detractors will argue that not enough goals, too many poor performances and the signings that didn't work are all evidence to the contrary.

Opinion will be divided too as to whether Town's switch to a hybrid version of full-time has been worth it, but surely their magnificent defensive record would not have been achieved without the extra training time it allowed to hone shape, structure and organisation.

Retaining that with the addition of more firepower should result in fewer extremes next season.