FC Halifax Town v Eastleigh preview

Scott McManus scores for Halifax in their 3-3 home draw with Eastleigh last season
Scott McManus scores for Halifax in their 3-3 home draw with Eastleigh last season

FC Halifax Town welcome an Eastleigh side without a permanent manager or a chairman to The Shay on Saturday (3pm).

The Spitfires lost 1-0 at home to lower league Hampton and Richmond Borough in the FA Cup last Saturday, a game which striker Chris Zebroski missed by going AWOL.

Previous chairman Mark Jewell stood down, along with two other board members, earlier this month, only five months after he was part of a group that purchased a controlling interest in the club.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, manager Andy Hessenthaler, who had guided them to an impressive start in the National League, left to join Dover on October 8, and Eastleigh have lost their two matches since under caretaker-boss Ben Strevens.

Saturday’s Shay clash will see a Town side with a strong home record come up against an Eastleigh team who have collected more points on the road than at home.

Only four teams in the National League have won more away games than Eastleigh, but only three sides have conceded fewer home goals in the division than Halifax, who have lost just once at home this season.

The Shaymen will have on loan Scunthorpe striker Kyle Wootton available after he was not given permission to play in the FA Cup, but boss Jamie Fullarton was not expecting to have any of his injured players back fit on Saturday. Defender Michael Duckworth was added to that list after picking up an ankle injury at the weekend.

Halifax go into the game on the back of a 2-0 FA Cup win over Warrington on Tuesday night thanks to goals from Jordan Preston and Dayle Southwell.

When asked if Town needed that win, Fullarton said: “We’re consistent with our approach, never too high when you win and never too low when you lose.

“But it’s whatever spin you want to put on it in the media, because whilst you can turn around and say we haven’t won for however long, we’ve only lost three out of the last 12.

“Obviously football’s about winning games, whether it be the league or the cup. You must win in the cup or you’re out.

“The mantra’s not changed, we’re going to try to win every game we play. How do we do that? Continue to create the chances we do, and increase that ratio of goals to chances, which will mean we’ll win more games than we lose.”

Town produced a much improved performance on Tuesday night from their draw at Warrington on Saturday.

“I don’t want to put too much on Tuesday,” said Fullarton. “You’ve got to take into account what surrounds the game.

“But other than the discrepancies I’ve mentioned previously in terms of performance, we have performed to a level this season, which has raised the expectation.

“If you look at Tuesday, we’re deep into the squad at the moment, and that’s pleasing because we’re deep into the squad, and yet it’s a performance that is what we’re looking for, and the fans will be looking for.

“A clean sheet, and creating many opportunities with a way of playing, in particular certain moves and passages of play that created the opportunities, which were exciting and enjoyable.

“We strive for that every game, but I don’t want to put too much onus on Tuesday, because I think we have performed but the points total doesn’t reflect performances we’ve had in the last eight weeks.”

When asked how he felt Town had done so far this season, Fullarton said: “It’s a long season. There’s events that happen at different stages that impact your results.

“Where could or should we have been? I think even on the games we’ve played, at Wrexham the referee admitted he made a mistake by chalking the goal off - there are aspects like that you don’t control that affect your points total.

“But it’s behaviours I look at, so if we can have consistent behaviours in terms of performances individually and collectively, then you’re looking, over a period of time, to have consistent outcomes.

“There’s always a direct correlation, the League Manager’s Association have the stats from every league, where budget relates to league position.

“So more often that not, wherever your budget is in the budget league, that’s where you are in the actual league after 46 games.

“If a team overachieve and the manager does well with what he has, you finish three or four places above where your budget should put you.

“If you underachieve, you finish three or four places below.

“We’re striving to be better than what we were last year, and not relate to the budget table but to the actual table, where we’re looking to overachieve on that.”

Town drew 3-3 at home to Eastleigh last season in a game that saw both sides have their keeper sent-off before loanee Daniel Batty equalised in stoppage time.

Saturday’s National League fixtures:

Barrow v Barnet

Boreham Wood v Bromley

Braintree Town v Dover Athletic

Chesterfield v Wrexham

Dagenham & Redbridge v Harrogate Town

FC Halifax Town v Eastleigh

Gateshead v Aldershot Town

Hartlepool United v Sutton United

Leyton Orient v Havant & Waterlooville

Maidenhead United v AFC Fylde

Maidstone United v Solihull Moors

Salford City v Ebbsfleet