FC Halifax Town: Staunton glad to be ending mixed season on a high

Josh Staunton scores for Halifax against Bromley last Saturday
Josh Staunton scores for Halifax against Bromley last Saturday

Josh Staunton must wish he could play Bromley every week.

The Town man’s two goals this season have both come in 2-2 draws against The Ravens, the latest of which saw him handed a simple close-range header after Bromley keeper David Gregory dropped a corner into his path last Saturday.

“I must be their bogey player!,” Staunton joked. “It’s nice to get a goal, especially one like that - not even I could miss that!”

Staunton joined Town from Woking last summer but missed nearly two months of the season after picking up an injury against Barrow in August.

He returned to the team to score at Bromley at the end of September, but was out of the side for more than two months after losing his place when he was sent-off in the 1-1 draw at Dagenham and Redbridge in December.

After substitute appearances against Havant and Waterlooville and Barnet, he has now started Town’s last five games in a row.

“It’s been nice to be back after a long time on the sideline,” he said. “I’m enjoying being out there.”

Staunton says he appreciates his place in the side more having been deprived of it for so long.

“You’re desperate to keep your shirt rather than drop in and out,” he said.

“It’s frustrating but at the end of the day they’re your team-mates so you’ve got to support them.

“You want to get in on merit so you bide your time and wait your turn.”

The vast majority of Staunton’s game-time has come as a defensive midfielder rather than his more natural role as centre-half, with the former England C captain ending the season as the base of Town’s midfield diamond.

“Sometimes I still find it a bit alien but I’m getting used to it more and more,” he said.

“I think I’ve had 20 starts this season and I’ve played once at centre-half against Bromley, so 19 have been in central-midfield.

“It’s a different challenge each game because you change how you have to play when you’re playing a different attacking midfielder.

“Trying to protect the centre-halves, it’s not the prettiest job at times.

“After playing there, I realise how hard it is. When I’ve been centre-back you don’t really appreciate the holding midfielder, but it’s a tricky job.

“It’s a lot of running!”

Staunton feels the diamond formation has been effective.

“It’s done well. We’ve got strengths in it, and I think it’s quite a hard formation to play against,” he said.

“I think we find it a bit more difficult at home with the pitch being a bit more bobbly.

“Away from home, when we’ve been able to get the ball out through the diamond and get Cameron (King) on the ball, driving at people, it’s been very effective.”

Staunton is contracted for next season, and says he is looking forward to continuing his education at The Shay.

“I’ve definitely developed in understanding a role which was completely new to me,” he said.

“I still walk off the pitch and think ‘I could’ve done more’. I’m quite critical of myself, I don’t walk off and think ‘I was brilliant today’.

“Sometimes it’s easy to go back to what you know, like going to centre-half and back to my comfort zone, but I’m trying to improve as much as I can and learn on the job.

“I can’t wait for next season. Hopefully kick on, maintain a place in the team and push on.”

The 23-year-old feels Halifax have possessed the quality to have finished higher this season.

“I think on reflection, the squad is a better squad than the position shows,” he added.

“I think maybe sometimes we haven’t transferred onto the pitch as well as we could’ve done.

“We went through a hard time when we weren’t scoring goals,but the defence were very good.

“We’ve got the balance right now, and I think we’ve got a good squad of players that probably warrant being a bit higher than we are.”