FC Halifax Town: Players are on board with new approach, says Heath

Football - FC Halifax Town v Morecambe. Billy Heath
Football - FC Halifax Town v Morecambe. Billy Heath

Town manager Billy Heath says the team has adapted to his style of play quicker than he thought.

The Shaymen have one pre-season game remaining before the start of the campaign and are unbeaten so far in their warm-up matches.

The Halifax boss has initiated a more pro-active approach from his team, with Town pressing the opposition higher up the pitch and having more possession than they usually enjoyed last season.

And Heath is delighted with what he’s seen so far.

“The thing that’s pleased me most - aside from the play and the goals - is that we’re working so hard,” he said.

“The transition from what was required of them last season to what’s required now, as in the way we’re playing, is totally different but they’ve taken it on board really well.

“We do press the play now, we’ve totally changed the way we play from last season and we’re in a good position now.

“We can’t get carried away because it’s only pre-season, there aren’t any points involved.

“But I’m really pleased for all of them because they’re buying into what we want to do and they’ve got ability, they’ve got talent.”

Heath says the change of approach has bedded-in faster than he had anticipated.

“It’s come quicker than I thought,” he said. “I always mindful in pre-season that we had seven games to put things in place.

“But we’ve totally re-built the team. There are five players from last season - and two others aren’t available because they’re injured.

“But the way everyone’s gelled together and understood how we want them to play has been really good.

“We’re not there yet by a long way - we’ve got a lot of things still to work on.

“But well done to all of them because they’ve been fantastic.”

Heath believes a competitive squad has been key to Town’s impressive pre-season camapaign, and will be crucial in keeping players hungry during the season.

“There may be one or two players still to come in but they know they’ve got competition for places,” he said.

“Whether you’re Steve Drench or Jordan Burrow, they know they’ve got competition - and that’s how to keep people hungry.

“The players know that they’ve got to perform every week, because if they don’t, they may not play the next game.

“Some players don’t like that, some players can’t cope with that, but the players that are here can cope with that.

“I’m not saying they’re not going to play after one bad performance but they know there’s competition, and that’s the main thing.

“It’s too easy when you know there’s a starting 11 that’s going to play every week.

“I’m a great believer in having a settled team, I don’t like chopping and changing every week, but the players know there’s huge competition.”

One player who has particularly impressed Heath is striker Richard Peniket, who has been one of the stand-out performers in Town’s pre-season programme.

“You can see the confidence in the players.

“Take Richard Peniket for example. He came back from an injury last season, struggled a wee bit, but he looks full of confidence,” Heath added.

“I’ve always said if we’re going to play the way I want, a pressing game, it has to start with the front-men.

“And he looks mean, he looks ferocious and he looks all-energy.

“And this is how you’ve got to play. I’m really pleased for him because he’s a very talented player.

“But all the players have been magnificent, you can go through the full side from Saturday and everybody that was involved.

“But there’s been a transformation with Richard - he’s been fantastic.”