FC Halifax Town 1-0 Gateshead: The men stood firm, says Fullarton

FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jamie Fullarton
FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jamie Fullarton

Town boss Jamie Fullarton was happy with how his players responded from their weekend loss in their 1-0 win over Gateshead on Bank Holiday Monday.

Halifax were defeated 2-1 at Boreham Wood on Saturday thanks to a penalty deep into added time, but bounced back on Monday as Jordan Preston’s goal condemned his former club to defeat.

Fullarton said: “In the first-half, we produced a response to the gut-wrenching defeat on Saturday. It’s difficult when the players come away with nothing when you’re looking for us to manage the game, and see it out.

“It was a quick turnaround today, but how we started, their reaction, their understanding of what’s being asked of them, I thought they executed the game plan in the first-half showing a great understanding of it, and getting their just rewards.

“We maybe could have gone in more than one-nil up.

“Second-half, like any level of football, whether you’re home or away, teams have a spell. Let’s not forget, Gateshead only lost once in their first six games.

“They were in and about where we were having had a great start, and a way of playing that enabled them to have periods in the second-half where they showed why they’d only lost one game out of six.

“But what you ask of players is to manage games, and show other characteristics.

“We’re looking to play for 95 minutes, or shall we say 96 after what happened on Saturday, like we did in the first 45.

“But that’s a work in progress.

“We got another clean sheet and the goalkeeper’s not really had to make any saves, even during those periods when they had some possession, what I call blind pressure.

“The men stood firm. That’s what they were. It showed a real sharp learning curve from Saturday to manage the game, which has meant we’ve got three points and a clean sheet.”

Fullarton thought the manner of the win reflected the character in the Town squad, with The Shaymen holding on to their one goal advantage in the second-half under Gateshead pressure.

“I think every game we play, even Saturday, gives a real insight into the character, personality and types that we have at this football club,” Fullarton said. “And it’s still got room to grow.

“We’re looking to keep progressing, keep working hard. The mantra from day one still says the same - I think the fact we haven’t had any draws this season cements the fact - we’re going to try and win every game.”

When asked if he got as much satisfaction from Town’s second-half performance of grit and determination as their first-half display of quality, Fullarton said: “You do. As a coach you see things happen and you make decisions that sometimes work for you, and might cause a surprise, like when we go with (Jordan) Preston as a nine.

“The goal epitomised certain aspects of movement and free-flowing play, and you get real satisfaction from that.

“But no more than when you’ve got your defenders putting their bodies on the line, your midfield two scrapping, working, putting their foot in.

“You’re looking at a multiple of characteristics and ingredients that any successful team needs.

“Ultimately it’s winning games, and we have that mentality where we’re looking to win every game we play. The more we can win games playing like we did in the first-half, whilst knowing we have the resilience and the ability to respond in the second-half like we did, is pleasing because we’ve got tough games coming up.”

Town have scored first in six of their seven games so far this season, on which Fullarton commented: “If you look what we are, and even when we didn’t score first (at Salford) but how we responded, it tells you that if you want to put it into a boxing term, we don’t have a glass chin.

“I think it gives an insight into how we look to start games and the mentality where we’re on the front foot and looking to go and win games.

“It’s something that hopefully the environment we provide at the training ground develops that culture to give us a good chance of going and winning games.”

Does Fullarton think his side are only going to get better?

“We are, and there are a number of reasons,” he said. “There’s room for improvement, we have a group that’s willing to listen, that believe in what we’re doing and trust each other.

“What helps is when you get results from it. There’s as many areas that we want to improve on that there’s room to improve in.

“Whilst you improve, it’s important that you continue picking up points. We will continue to work on a daily basis - on an hourly basis for the staff - to improve what we are.”

On his squad since the addition of new signings Joe Skarz and James Berrett, Fullarton said: “It comes down to circumstances, situation, availability. I stressed when the two lads came in, why do we add players?

“You add players to complement and supplement, and not replace, within a squad.

“Where do they complement and supplement? Not only on the pitch to create competition, but culturally and socially in the dynamics of the group.

“That’s a difficult cake to bake, so it’s got to be right because the dynamics of the group influence and affect what happens on the pitch.

“It’s not when things are going well, it’s when you’re up against it for 10 minutes in a game that you see that reflected in how they respond, and I was pleased with how that happened today.”

Wingers Mekhi McLeod and Sanmi Odelusi have only featured fleetingly so far this season, but Fullarton is happy with the competition for places he has at his disposal.

“Sanmi’s still not fully fit from the knock he picked up, so we’ve got to be careful with the amount of games that we have through the season,” he said.

“It’s great to have those options on the bench because it’s strength in depth in each area.

“I touched on it back in February, you supplement and complement so injuries and suspension don’t derail what you’re trying to do.

“If you look at the squad, where we’re at with the players we have, when we have a fully-fit squad it’s a great position to be in as a manager, because a fully-fit squad gives me difficult decisions to make.”