FC Halifax Town v Chorley: Play-off final win will justify our move to Halifax, says Carroll

Football - FC Halifax Town v Accrington Stanley. Mark Carroll
Football - FC Halifax Town v Accrington Stanley. Mark Carroll

Assistant manager Mark Carroll says his and Billy Heath’s decision to leave North Ferriby for Halifax will have been justified if they guide Town to promotion on Saturday.

The duo led Ferriby to promotion from the National League North last season via the play-offs, but opted to take charge at The Shay rather than tackle the Conference premier with the Humberside club.

Carroll says that decision was based on the greater potential of The Shaymen and the opportunity to push for a place in the Football League.

“If we win the decision to come here will have been justified,” he said.

“You want to pit your wits against the best non-league teams, and they’re obviously in the Conference.

“We had an opportunity to do that with Ferriby, but we felt this was the move for us looking at where this club is capable of going.

“As we’ve seen at Ferriby this season, they were always going to struggle. But we wanted to get up there and maybe go one step further.

“We’ve still got to get there but it will have justified our decision.

“Anything you win is a great achievement in football. You just want to leave your footprint at a club.

“Whether you’re there for two, three or four years, you have to do your best and hope people will look back and remember your time fondly because you’ve achieved things.

“You want to look back and say ‘yeah, it’s been worthwhile’ and the only way to do that is by winning things.

“I could see the smiles on people’s faces when they run onto the pitch after the game on Sunday, and you get a buzz out of that, for what you’ve given to other people. It’s great.

“We know a lot of people live their life through the club and if you can be part of a team that made them have one of the best sporting days of their life, I’m all for that. I’ll love it.”

Town have played 3-5-2 in both games against Chorley already this season, and when asked if they would do the same on Saturday, Carroll said: “It’s something we’ve got to look at. It’s a possibility.”

Carroll is not underestimating the ability of Chorley.

“They’re experienced, they’re solid at the back,” he said. “They don’t concede that many.

“They’ve got a way of playing and they’re good at what they do.

“They can be quite direct at times but they’re a different animal on a different pitch. You have to be direct playing on their pitch, no disrespect but you can’t get the ball down and play on it.

“Their away form is better than their home form because they play a different way.

“If you look at the first game against them, they tried to get it down and play. But on their pitch you have to adapt to it.”

Halifax’s home win against Chorley in January is generally regarded as the turning point of their season, coming only three days after their hugely disappointing defeat at Stalybridge, but Carroll doesn’t necessarily see it that way.

“It helped,” he said. “You can look at a number of things - Matty Brown coming back, Sam Johnson coming in.

“I wouldn’t say it was the turning point because we always backed ourselves. We’ve been in this league for four or five seasons now and we knew it’s not always how you start but how you finish, and we’ve gone into the play-offs with a wet sail if you like, and we’re the form team.

“People will look at it and say it was a turning point but we always knew what the players were capable of.

“We’d had a good run before that, beating the likes of Dagenham.

“We just hit a bit of bad form, and we got injuries to key players who were playing well at the time like Jordan Sinnott, who was outstanding at the time.”

But Carroll believes Halifax’s two league wins over Chorley have no bearing on the final.

“That’s forgotten,” he said. “It’s a different game. Psychologically you know if you turn up and play to your ability, you can beat them because you’ve already beaten them twice.

“But they’ll come here full of confidence after going to Kidderminster and turning round their deficit. Although we have beaten them twice they were tough games.

“It’s a play-off final, and nobody’s going to leave anything on that pitch, so we know we’re going to have to beat our best to progress. But if we’re at our best we’re a match for anybody in this league.”