Eastleigh 0-1 FC Halifax Town: “Credit to the players” says a delighted Fullarton

Actions from FC Halifax Town v Havant and Waterlooville, at the Shay. Pictured is Jamie Fullarton and assistant manager Phil Hughes.
Actions from FC Halifax Town v Havant and Waterlooville, at the Shay. Pictured is Jamie Fullarton and assistant manager Phil Hughes.

Town boss Jamie Fullarton said his players carried out their game-plan “to a man” in their superb 1-0 win at high-flying Eastleigh.

The Shaymen made it back-to-back away wins thanks to James Ferry’s second-half goal, capping a dominant display from Halifax after the interval, and inflicting Eastleigh’s first home defeat since October 20.

Town played in a 4-4-2 diamond against The Spitfires, a change in system which Fullarton said his players adapted to very well.

“It’s a cliche - great credit to the players - but their tactical discipline, in a game-plan we’ve worked on this week, and when it bears fruit like it did today, it’s very rewarding as a manager,” he said.

“But the credit goes to the players because whilst you identify a way to play, a change in shape, it’s players that carry it out, and they did to a man, which resulted in them getting their reward.

“And I don’t think it’s any different from a number of games where we’ve drawn. I think what today is, is we created a number of chances against a team that’s not lost at home since October, sitting fourth in the league, I think they’ve won five in a row.

“We look at what we are and how we go about it, and our approach, the tactical switch, demonstrated that we came here to win the game, and we’re delighted to have done so.”

Fullarton said “understanding of what was being asked, and their tactical discipline” was the key to Town’s victory.

“I think that’s where credit goes to players. We’ve worked on it this week, and when you have a group of players that believe in what you’re asking them to do, and trust us as a backroom staff, then it results in their application today.

“There’s key ingredients that were present today that are present in every game in terms of putting bodies on the line, our level of work rate and effort, and it bore fruit today with creating opportunities, where we’re still looking to convert more than we did today.

“But when we work like we do and have that discipline, combined in the understanding of what was asked of them, it was great to see.”

When asked what had prompted the tactical switch, Fullarton said: “There were multiple reasons. People get caught up in systems and shapes, but the difference from one to another is starting positions in and our of possession.

“That’s what we changed, not the principles of what we are and how we play.

“The reason the players took it on board over a short period of time is that you relate it to what you do no matter what system you play, and it worked today.

“There’s a number of reasons - what the opposition are, their strengths. We don’t just turn up and play, there’s a lot of thought that goes in behind it.

“It doesn’t always reflect in the score that you get, but credit to the players for their contribution - that’s there every week.

“Peoples’ view from the outside when we get a result against a team fourth in the league and who’ve won six of their last seven is ‘wow’ - but not mine, I’m more balanced on that.

“It’s a firm belief when you come into these games that you can win them.”

After a more even first-half, Halifax seized control of the contest after the restart, flooding forward time and again until Ferry finally broke the deadlock.

“Again, it’s about clarity in what we’re trying to do, which resulted in many opportunities for us,” Fullarton said.

“Some half-chances but some clear-cut chances, which was pleasing to see.

“I’m in an informed position because I’ve worked with them on it, so to see the players act out what we asked of them, was great to see.”

Town fielded a patched-up side in the game, giving starts to two debutants in loanees Devante Rodney and Manny Duku.

“That shows the togetherness of the group,” said Fullarton, “and shows what we are as a group.

“Injuries are part of football, but there’s a willingness among the players.

“Cameron King hasn’t trained all week, but came in at the end of the week having been out for three weeks.

“The two new lads came in on Thursday and contributed well, adding that competition and impacting the game.

“With Manny (Duku) getting booked early on, and then having another incident, it was a preservation decision at half-time, no more, and I explained that to him.

“We couldn’t run the risk with him being booked and then being spoken to, which was probably more of a booking than the one he received.

“So you’ve got to make decisions for the greater good and not give the referee a decision to make.

“And that’s the advantage of having a change off the bench and having competition for places, because if you don’t then you can’t make that change, and then you’re riding by the seat of your pants and hoping, as opposed to planning and preventing.”

Midfielder Niall Maher played despite nursing a broken hand.

“He was wearing a soft cast, but there was no doubt he was ever not going to play in his mindset, which again reflects what the group are,” said Fullarton.

“I can say as much as I like, but the players’ actions in terms of performance and putting themselves out there reflect what they think and feel for the club, and for any fan, that’s what you want.

“That’s the platform we require to kick on and keep progressing.”

Match-winner Ferry made his first start in nearly two months. When asked if his three-month loan from Stevenage, due to expire later this month, might be extended, Fullarton said: “These are all things that are constantly evolving behind the scenes.

“James’ contribution, not only with the goal but throughout the game, had an impact and contributed to what was a reasonably accomplished performance in the second-half to control the game against a team that’s flying high.

“There were times in the first-half where we were called upon to defend the frame of the goal, which was vital, because it meant we stayed in the game.”

Halifax have now kept six clean sheets in the last seven matches, something else which Fullarton said was a reflection of the work they do in training, adding: “I’m not surprised, and that’s a team effort. It gives everyone involved at the club and insight into the work that’s done during the week.

“That’s why we’ve come away from the team in form with a thoroughly deserved 1-0 victory.”