FC Halifax Town: "We've got the belief in the squad that we can do it" - Warburton on form, focus and the race for promotion

There is a calm focus and an unwavering belief from Matty Warburton that seems to be ingrained throughout the Halifax squad.

By Tom Scargill
Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 12:50 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th April 2022, 12:52 pm

It's the calm focus that has helped put Town in pole position for finishing second or third in the National League table, which would hand them home advantage in a play-off semi-final.

And it's the unwavering belief that could help get them there.

The Shaymen face a potentially pivotal Easter double-header this weekend in the race for promotion, visiting Altrincham on Friday before hosting Chesterfield in a televised game on Monday night.

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Matty Warburton. Photo: Marcus Branston

"We've got the belief, it's as simple as that, we've got the belief in the group that we can do it," says Warburton.

"We come to training and we're all focused on the same goal. It's the same on matchday, and no-one's got any ulterior motive.

"There's a belief in and around the group that we can really push on and challenge for promotion this year.

"Everybody in the group believes that we can go up, we've got the squad, we've got the management team, we've got the talent, we've got the work ethic.

"We've just got to go out there and prove why we believe we can go up and make sure we back that belief up with performances."

After a superb season in which standards have remained remarkably high, The Shaymen's performance levels have been more mixed of late.

Warburton says results should be the focus, but believes performances can return to previous levels.

"When it comes to this stage of the season, results become more important than performances," he said.

"There's an argument to say performances are more important at the start and middle of the year because they get the results, but if you asked any fan or any of the players, what's most important coming away a 5.30pm after a three o'clock Saturday game, they'd say the result.

"So the results are the important things and we've been getting those recently.

"Since the King's Lynn game we have picked back up. I think the second-half against Torquay, they way we pressed and went after them, there were definite signs that the performance was there.

"But the most important thing at this time of year is the results and we seem to be getting them.

"Against Woking, in my opinion, it was one of our poorest performances this season at home but we managed to get over the line, which is the most important thing.

"And you could see by the reaction of everyone at the end that, on another day it might have gone against us or we might have got a point or got beat, but it was so pleasing to win an ugly game.

"We're doing everything we possibly can to try and put in improved performances, and I've no doubt that they'll come back in the run-in."

Warburton feels there is a lot more to come from the Town squad.

"Every single one of the players here is desperate to play, and we know that if your standards drop, you could come out of the team, which is a big motivation in wanting to play and getting the right results," he said.

"In terms of hitting the performance levels, I don't see any reason why we can't get back to it.

"It only takes one half or one 30 minute spell and we can be back to looking like ourselves.

"I don't think we've been too far away but I definitely think there's more to come from us. There's players in the group absolutely itching to get their shirts back."

Warburton says that calm focus is going to be vital during the run-in, and that Town need to be playing games, not the occasions.

"I think the most important thing when you get to this stage of the season is just to play the games as normal games of football and try not to overthink the consequences," he said.

"I think a lot of teams get to this stage of the season, in every league, and will choke or fade away because they're thinking of the what-ifs rather than just playing the game that's in-front of them and treating every game as 11 v 11, just a football match.

"That's what our attitude needs to be every game. We shouldn't be thinking 'we've got seven more games, we need to get this amount of points', we just need to go and play the games, just one game at a time, play it for what it is, like we have all season.

"And if we do that, with how well we've done this season, there's no reason why we wouldn't remain where we are."

Where Halifax are is third in the National League, having won 22 of their 37 league matches this season, losing just eight.

Asked if he was surprised at how well The Shaymen had done this season, Warburton said: "No, not particularly. I don't mean that to sound arrogant at all, but just in terms of the squad depth we have now and the quality of players we have, it's no surprise to me that we're right up there.

"From staff downwards, everyone's pulling in the right direction. It just seems like a football club that everybody wants to be a part of and everybody wants to push for that next level.

"The way we've played this year, it's been a joy to be a part of and I'm hoping that we don't just settle.

"We're looking like we should make the play-offs, but I'm hoping that we really push on and we see what we can get from this year."

Only Billy Waters has scored more goals for Town this season than Warburton, whose brace earned The Shaymen a crucial 2-1 home win over Woking on Saturday.

"From a personal perspective I'm happy but from a team point of view I won't be happy until we finish where we want to finish in the league," he said.

"If that's not really pushing Wrexham and Stockport to the last, it's making sure we get that semi-final home draw, which is really important, especially given our home record.

"So I won't be satisfied just yet until the final game's played, and then I can sit back, relax and reflect on what's been a really enjoyable season."

Warburton has enjoyed a strong season at The Shay, which has helped get his career back on track after a couple of disappointing years at Northampton.

"Pete and Milly put their faith in me by giving me that number ten shirt, giving me the starts and allowing me to go out and express myself, and I'm hoping I'm repaying the trust they've given me," he said.

"I'm loving Halifax life, I'm loving playing for the club, representing it.

"It's been a season where I'm back where I should be, back playing well and most of all, I'm enjoying it, which had been absent for a couple of years.

"If I'm not playing I'm not particularly happy to be honest, I'm not really motivated by anything other than playing.

"But it's been a really good year, we've got a great group of lads and it's been great to be part of it.

"But we need to make sure that as much enjoyment there is around the club at the moment, we get the job done and make sure we finish as high as we possibly can and give ourselves the best chance we can."