FC Halifax Town: We've got the characters to deal with the pressure of the play-offs, says top-scorer Waters

Billy Waters is confident Town have the characters to deal with the pressure of the play-offs.

By Tom Scargill
Wednesday, 18th May 2022, 4:12 pm

The Shaymen host Chesterfield on Tuesday in the first of what would be three play-off games if they go all the way.

Waters was part of the Torquay squad who lost to Hartlepool in the National League play-off final last season, and admits that there is added pressure when it comes to the end-of-season games, but feels Town can handle it.

"Of course there's more pressure because it becomes knock-out but I think we've got the characters," he said.

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Billy Waters. Photo: Marcus Branston

"We've had a mix in the changing room all season, we've got lads who've never experienced it, lads who have experienced it in abundance and lads who've had snippets of it.

"We've definitely got the players in the changing room to deal with that pressure.

"On a personal note, my mentality is to go out and enjoy it, whilst also getting the job done.

"I definitely think we've got more than enough in the changing room to win.

"It's just about relaxing and enjoying the occasion.

"Every club wants to make it to the play-offs. Obviously you've got to win but you've got to enjoy it as well.

"The atmosphere's always good, with the fans behind you, so it's an enjoyable experience. One every player should long for.

"It's about taking that opportunity and making it count.

"Going into the Chesterfield game, we're confident having taken four points off them this season.

"They're not in the best run of form. I don't want to jinx it but we're really confident going into that game.

"We're having a few days' rest just to switch off but as soon as we come back in it'll be drummed into us about how they're going to play and preparing right for that game.

"It's about momentum, if we beat Chesterfield then we go to win the next one, you hit that form anyway.

"When we played Hartlepool last year in the final, they'd played the quarter-finals, the semi-final and then the final, so they had more games and more momentum, and that's what you have to have going into a final."

Town slipped out of the top three late on in the season, meaning they need to beat Chesterfield first before what would then be an away clash at third-placed Solihull.

"It's disappointing not to have made that final three, especially when you look at the season and we've probably consistently been in that top three," Waters said.

"So to drop out in the last two games is disappointing.

"But at the same time, 84 points for the season is a fantastic achievement for the club, so we've got to look at the positives with it and realise that, ultimately, we're going into it with an extra game, which can gather momentum.

"Hopefully we beat Chesterfield and go on from there."

And Waters says the Town fans will have a "massive" role to play on Tuesday night.

"The fans at Stockport were incredible, and I can't tell you how much of a lift that is," he said.

"The Stockport fans were incredible as well, I know they had a lot to sing about, but people underestimate how important the home tie is but when the fans get behind you there's nothing better.

"They give you that extra yard on the pitch, they lift you, they give you more energy, so they're going to be massive in that game.

"I'd urge as many people to come down as possible, because every person's going to make a difference and that's what you need in a play-off game, you need that passion and togetherness to get through it."

Waters admits Town's form has been mixed prior to the play-offs, with five wins, three draws and two defeats as well as varying performance levels.

"I think it has yeah, if we're going to be brutally honest," he said.

"If you look back to earlier in the season, we were racking up win after win, so now we've hit a bit of a stumble in form.

"But these things happen during a season.

"We've still put in some good performances in the last 10, some bad ones too. It has been mixed.

"You want to go into those play-off games with momentum.

"We'll have had a bit of a break before it, which I think the boys needed, just to clear our heads and go into the quarter-final fresh."

Waters is Town's top-scorer with 20 goals, and says he'd love to add to his tally in the play-offs.

"I've not scored now in the last nine or ten, which is disappointing for me, because I want to be getting as many goals as possible," he said.

"But I'd love it if my goals counted in the play-off games.

"I'd feel gutted if we didn't get promoted. What we've achieved this season already we're proud of, but it's put to bed now, and ultimately, if we don't get promoted now it's all been for nothing.

"That's what we don't want. There's nothing worse than grafting week in, week out, trying to reach your end goal of promotion and then falling at the last hurdle.

"That will be on our minds. That feeling when we didn't get promoted at Torquay last year, I've held onto that and thought 'I don't want this feeling again'.

"We were on the coach and we were hearing the Stockport fans when they lifted the trophy, I had that at Cheltenham when we won the league. That brought back memories, thinking how good would it have been to have had that feeling again.

"It's my mentality, and I'm sure it's the whole squad's as well, that losing isn't an option. We have to win every game."