FC Halifax Town: We can bounce back from defeat against Cheltenham, says Walker

Sam Walker
Sam Walker

Sam Walker is confident there’ll be no hangover from Town’s defeat at Welling when they host Cheltenham tomorrow (3.0).

Town have lost three and drawn three of their last six games, and sit second-from-bottom ahead of the visit of the high-flying Robins, who are third in the National League with seven wins from 13 games.

Walker admits there was a sense of disappointment among the squad that they couldn’t follow-up their stirring display against Gateshead.

“It’s a bit of a roller-coaster because you go from the high of the performance against Gateshead where we did everything but get the three points,” he said.

“Everyone’s buzzing travelling down on the Friday and after half-an-hour everything’s looking good, we’re playing well.

“And then you see some of the lads in the changing room at full-time and it’s taken the wind out of the sail a little bit.

“But I don’t think that’ll last. We’ll regroup for Cheltenham.”

Walker was pleased with Town’s performance until Welling’s quick-fire double, but is backing The Shaymen to bounce back on Saturday.

He added: “In the first 40 minutes we seemed to kick on where we left off against Gateshead.

“Then it’s just a lapse, they get in and get that first one. You think ‘OK, let’s just calm it down, get in at half-time, regroup and go again’.

“But then out of nowhere it dropped to the striker, he’s swung his leg at it with everything he’s got and smashed it in the top corner.

“It’s extremely disappointing following on from what we did against Gateshead. We turned a corner and then we’re all buzzing for the next game.

“Then you’re just brought back down to earth really.

“But there’s plenty of strong characters in that changing room. People aren’t just going to accept that at all.

“Obviously with a new manager coming in everyone’s mad keen to impress because everyone wants to be playing.

“There’s plenty still to play for.”

Walker may have had a long wait for his first start, but the midfielder is relishing his new-found role in the Town engine room.

Walker was restricted to just one substitute appearance in Halifax’s first 11 games this season, but has since started against Gateshead and Welling.

The former Curzon Ashton man was one of the stand-out performers in the draw with Gateshead last week, and his withdrawal during the second-half was greeted with a standing ovation from the Town fans, which Walker greatly appreciated.

“It was really nice. The Shay was bouncing anyway and I think the fans played a massive part in the Gateshead game,” he said.

“I think they could see it was tough against Southport on the Saturday and they really picked us up.

“Coming off it was brilliant because when you don’t play for so long, you can get down about it and it does get to you.

“You’re thinking about it all the time and to come off when I started getting a bit leggy and for everyone to give me the ovation I got was brilliant.

“It made me realise just how much I enjoy being out there and playing.”

Walker believes it is inevitable that doubts can creep in after being left out of the first-team for a prolonged spell.

“Sometimes you do second guess yourself and look at the way you’re training,” he said, “but I thought ‘no, I belong, I’m doing just as much as everybody else’ and you have to think the tide’s going to turn at some point.

“I feel comfortable and I think there’s more to come from me with proper match fitness where I can go for 90 minutes all out, I think I’ll have plenty more to give.

“I felt really good for probably an hour against Gateshead, I was getting on the ball.

“My touch and my delivery was there, despite not playing for so long, so I was really pleased with that.”

Walker accepts he wasn’t Neil Aspin’s first-choice in midfield, but admits being frozen out for as long as he was took a bit of getting used to.

“I think there was just a few other lads that were in the pecking order before me,” he said.

“That was how it was seen. That’s the manager’s right. It’s not up to me, you just have to keep your head down and keep working, that’s all you can do in that situation.

“There’s no point sulking about it because that won’t get you anywhere.

“You’ve got to be tough with yourself, you’ve got to be mentally strong and keep telling yourself ‘I’ve got to get a chance soon’, even if you don’t see to coming.

“I’ve never had any spell like that where I’ve been out of a team that long so it was new to me.

“I felt like I dealt with it in the right way. Some people have their own way of going about it but I just thought I needed to keep myself to myself, keep trying to do well in training and hopefully something would change.”