FC Halifax Town: Aspin had faith in me, says Bolton

Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. James Bolton
Football - FA Cup - FC Halifax Town v Guiseley. James Bolton

James Bolton admits he owes Neil Aspin a debt of gratitude ahead of the former Halifax manager’s return to The Shay on Saturday.

Aspin signed Bolton three times when he was Town manager - twice on loan and finally permanently - with the defender part of the Conference North promotion-winning team under Aspin in 2013.

The 22-year-old credits his former boss with a crucial role in his career so far and believes Aspin showed faith in him when other managers might not have.

Bolton said: “Me and Neil get on, I think he rates me as a player.

“I haven’t got a bad word to say about him, he’s always treated me well.

“He played a massive role in my development and gave me a chance when other managers wouldn’t.

“I think I was 18 when he first started playing me and that was in big games where a lot of managers wouldn’t have.

“He showed a lot of faith in me which was good of him.

“He gave me little tips here and there. He’s been there and done it in his career so he’s been really good for me.”

Bolton is looking forward to the reunion with Aspin, and admits the fact that the former Town boss is the visiting manager on Saturday adds extra excitement to the tie.

“I saw the draw on Twitter,” Bolton said, “it’s a bit of a spicy one isn’t it?

“There’ll be a lot on the line and it should be a good atmosphere - hopefully the fans will come down in numbers.

“I scored home and away against them last season and I should have had one this season as well but Toots (Shaun Tuton) took it off me.

“Hopefully we can get a win and get ourselves into the next round.

“To play at Wembley it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I think we’ve got a good chance - anybody can beat anybody at this level.”

The former Macclesfield defender feels he is a different player and person to the youngster that first joined Halifax back in 2013 and is satisfied with his current form.

He said: “I’ve worked really hard in the gym for a while now and you do feel the benefits.

“I was a little boy when I first came here, very skinny, but I feel strong now and that I can compete with everyone else, but there’s still a lot of time for me yet in my career.

“I think I’ve played quite well and been quite consistent.

“I wouldn’t say I’ve shined more than anyone else but I think I’ve been consistently quite good in every game, fairly steady.”

Bolton has been part of a back four and a back five at times this season, and feels the Halifax defence is flexible enough to switch between the two systems.

“I think it depends on what the other team’s playing,” he said.

“Grimsby played two up-front and I think it worked really well against them.

“Kev Roberts came into the back three and had an unbelievable game.

“I thought it worked wonders last week.

“Me and Kev can play centre-half or right-back and we can swap over so you can change it around as much as you want really.”

Town’s recent improvement at the back since Jim Harvey’s appointment is in stark contrast to their vulnerability under Darren Kelly, with Bolton crediting a back to basics approach as the catalyst.

He added: “It’s the same personnel - maybe we’re just concentrating on defending a bit more.

“Jim’s got us concentrating on that more as a unit and as a team.

“I think the spine of the team wasn’t as strong as it should have been.

“The last 15 games we’ve gone in with the mentality of ‘right, let’s stay in the game until 60 minutes and see if we can win it’ and its worked out well.”