FC Halifax Town: Cheltenham preview

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FC Halifax Town could hardly wish for a tougher opponent as they aim to finally kick start their season tomorrow.

Cheltenham head to The Shay with seven wins and just two defeats from their first 13 games.

Only Guiseley and Braintree have conceded fewer away goals in the league than Cheltenham, who have the joint-tightest defence in the division.

Manager Gary Johnson, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Monday, has admitted his side will be expected to win at The Shay, with Cheltenham losing only twice in 13 games, while Halifax have just one win from the same number of matches.

Striker Danny Wright is Cheltenham’s top-scorer with five goals, all of which have come in his last eight games.

Cheltenham have only lost one of their six away games, and that was to a 90th minute winner at Altrincham.

It’s a different story for The Shaymen, with only Boreham Wood having fewer shots on target than Town.

It’s 21 games since Town’s last clean sheet in the league, with only Torquay having conceded more goals than Halifax.

Town’s top-scorer Jordan Burrow has eight goals so far this term, but only two in his last six outings, both of which came against Southport.

Town’s new manager Darren Kelly is set to take a back seat for the game, with head of youth development Steve Nichol expected to be in charge before Kelly takes over full-time on Monday.

Chief scout Gareth McClelland, who had been in charge for Halifax’s last three games, won’t be involved due to a family commitment taking his son for medical treatment in the USA.

He said: “It’s something that was booked six months ago and obviously I didn’t expect to be in this position, but family has to come first.”

It will be the first meeting between the sides since March 2002, when goals from Craig Midgley, Ian Fitzpatrick and two from Paul Harsley helped Town to a 4-1 win.

A win could see Cheltenham go top if other results go their way, while Halifax could slump to the foot of the table if Kidderminster better their result at home to Welling.