FC Halifax Town: Let’s pick up where we left off, says Fullarton

Manager Jamie Fullarton, FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town at the Shay, Halifax
Manager Jamie Fullarton, FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town at the Shay, Halifax

Town boss Jamie Fullarton wants his side to pick up where they left off against Harrogate when they host bottom-club Braintree on Saturday.

The Shaymen recovered from an awful start to claim a 1-1 draw against Harrogate at The Shay on Tuesday thanks to a rousing finish in which substitute Jonathan Edwards netted his third goal of the season.

And Fullarton wants to take the way Town finished the game in midweek and carry it straight into their game tomorrow, against a Braintree team who have lost more matches and conceded more goals than any other side in the National League.

Fullarton said his side go into the game in good shape having remained unbeaten over three games against Harrogate and Gateshead, both of whom are in the top seven.

“We’ve played six games in 18 days and come out of it in a reasonable condition,” he said.

“But our focus turns to Saturday, because then it will be seven games in 22 days.

“Although we’ve played three games against top seven teams in nine days, that doesn’t mean that Braintree will be any easier.

“It’s that second-half approach, where there was patience, prodding and probing, that’s going to be needed for when Braintree come here.

“If you look at how they’ve done recently - until Tuesday - they’ve been losing by the odd goal, picking up draws and wins, so it’ll be a difficult game.

“It’s important that how we finished the last game, the last 20 minutes, that we start like that.

“If we start like that against any team in the division, then we give ourselves a real good opportunity to take all three points.”

Braintree go into the game having won one, drawn one and lost two over the Christmas period.

The Iron were promoted into the National League last season but find themselves eight points adrift of safety having won only four of their 28 league fixtures.

When asked if he saw the game a better opportunity for three points than recent matches against sides above them in the table, Fullarton said: “I don’t look at it that way, ever, because that shows a lack of respect for teams in the division.

“If you look throughout the league at some results, everyone’s capable of beating each other.

“It’s important that our approach on Saturday is correct.

“If you look at our last three games in particular, if we maintain that then we’re looking at winning three points.

“Anything short of that, then it’ll be a very difficult afternoon.”

The game marks the end of Town’s hectic Christmas and New Year period, and will precede Halifax’s first game-free midweek for just under a month.

“We do have a small squad and it has been impacted by injuries and suspensions,” Fullarton said.

“There are players coming back from injury that might need that extra days training, but players prefer to play games.

“I’m not so sure about every three days, because it does take its toll.

“But the Christmas period is the same for every club.

“When you’ve had the three results and the two-and-a-half performances over the Christmas period, you gain momentum, so we’ll be looking forward to having another game at home.”

When asked if he believed his side had gained some momentum, having won two, drawn three and lost one during their congested run of fixtures, Fullarton said: “Momentum suggests emotion, and it’s about trying to be balanced.

“But you can never underestimate the confidence you get from a result like Tuesday. It’s a building block on top of Gateshead, on top of Harrogate away.

“There’s a definite belief within the group that, with a fully-fit squad, competition for places, then we can compete with anyone.

“We’ve played 10 games against the top seven, and only lost one.”

Of Town’s injured players, midfielder James Berrett and defender Joe Skarz are thought to be closest to returning to action.

“What’s encouraging and pleasing is James and Joe have taken part in the warm-up on Tuesday, so they don’t miss a day,” Fullarton said.

“It’s important we get enough time on the grass, because when you have the amount of games we’ve had, it’s very difficult to get the balance between rest and recovery, preparation and matches.

“So for the players that are on the cusp of getting closer, we have to make sure they get as much work as soon as possible to give them the best chance.

“We’ll assess that for the game on Saturday. But there’s still boxes that need to be ticked when you’re doing your rehab, certain things you have to take part in whether it’s contact, intensity level of a session, or the size of the areas you’re working within.

“They all need to be done before you can expose them to matches.”

On midfielder Cameron King’s knee injury which he sustained against Wimbledon in the FA Cup on December 1, Fullarton said: “Cameron’s not quite at that stage or close to joining in any aspect of training, so he’s not on my radar of consideration for games.”

And on longer-term injury-victim Josh Macdonald, Fullarton said: “It’s a long process with Josh. The advantage he will have is there are many areas he can work on whilst he recovers.

“It’s patience from everyone involved, including Josh, which is very difficult, but it’s an underrated attribute to have as you build towards it.

“But he’s not close to being on my radar at the moment, although he is progressing well.”