FC Halifax Town: “These are the games you want” says assistant boss Hughes ahead of festive fixtures

Town assistant manager Phil Hughes next to Halifax boss Jamie Fullarton
Town assistant manager Phil Hughes next to Halifax boss Jamie Fullarton

Town’s assistant boss Phil Hughes says The Shaymen are up for the challenge of their festive fixtures, starting at home to Sutton on Saturday.

Halifax face four games in the next 11 days against Sutton, Harrogate twice and Gateshead - all of whom are in the top eight in the National League.

“These are the games you want,” said Hughes. “The Sutton game’s going to be very difficult, they’re a good side, they know what they have to do and they do it.

“We know how we have to compete and go about our business to get a result against Sutton.

“It’s not going to be easy, but these last three games show a character, a braveness and, they way we go about our business, it gives us a chance in every game we play in, but we have to be respectful of what we’ve got coming.

“Harrogate, we’ll all be looking forward to. Those two games over Christmas and New Year are going to be fantastic.

“Squeezed in-between we’ve got Gateshead, another very difficult team to play against. We’ve played them at home so we know how good they are.

“Sutton, Harrogate, Gateshead, Harrogate - it’s difficult but we’ll be up for the challenge I’m sure of that.”

Winger Matty Kosylo has served his suspension, but is is unclear whether he, Cameron King or Joe Skarz will be back from the injuries that kept them out against Barrow.

Josh Staunton will miss the game as he serves the last of his three-match ban.

When asked if Town have the squad to cope with their run of games, Hughes said: “We do need bodies, everybody does.

“This Christmas period is one everybody relishes, everyone loves it, but if we could get another body in that would be great, and if we can get the people that aren’t fit back, that’s great also.

“But at a football club, you never have everyone fit, there’s always going to be people injured, that the nature of the beast.”

Striker Dayle Southwell netted his first goal since October 23 on Tuesday night, and Hughes is confident the forward can find his scoring touch.

“It’s the old cliche about buses, so hopefully that comes to life,” Hughes said.

“In training, in-front of goal, Dayle’s second to none. He’s a fantastic finisher, and I’m not just saying that.

“Both him and Jordan (Preston) are finishers.

“He works so hard on the pitch, he’s a very good professional, and when you work like that, it always comes right for you.

“As long as he keeps his head down, which I’m sure he will, the goals will come.”

Mekhi McLeod was handed his first start for Town in the 1-1 draw at Dagenham two weeks ago, and has now started the last three games.

“It’s been a long road for Mekhi,” said Hughes. “He’s done a lot of work where he’s had to get his head down and he’s come out the other end.

“The manager’s shown faith in him, put him into these games, and I think he was very unlucky at Dagenham, where I thought he was doing well, but had to come off (after Josh Staunton’s red card).

“He then did reasonably well up at Barrow, and he had a good game overall on Tuesday.

“The front four came alive after the first 15 minutes and I thought they looked effective, dangerous, and once he was able to beat the first man, he looked like was able to cause a bit of damage.”

On the importance of the festive period to the rest of Town’s season, Hughes said: “Christmas periods are renowned for setting out stalls and what you’re going to do and where you’re going to be.

“We go into that period with a run of results that show we’re difficult to beat.

“If we can reproduce what the front four did on top of our resilience, I think if you come out of those four games with fair results, then we’ll be looking OK for the rest of the season.”

Town go into the schedule on an encouraging run of two defeats in their last eight, having won one and drawn two of their last three matches.

“That hasn’t happened by accident, there’s been a lot of hard work there, and a lot of it goes down to the players and their application, and how they’ve tackled obstacles that have come their way.

“We have had some strange decisions, the odd sending off, and we’ve dealt with these things that have come our way, and I think that’s a characteristic that’s essential for us to do better, and I think we will.”