Grimsby manager expects to face a highly-motivated Halifax

Grimsby manager Paul Hurst
Grimsby manager Paul Hurst

Halifax will have no problem getting motivated for Sunday’s FA Trophy Final at Wembley, according to Grimsby boss Paul Hurst.

Hurst is expecting a tough contest when his side take on the Shaymen at the National Stadium.

The two sides have had contrasting fortunes in the National League this season, with the Mariners gaining promotion via the Play-Offs after beating Forest Green Rovers 3-1 on Sunday while Halifax suffered relegation on the final day.

But Hurst is preparing his players for what he believes will be a Town team striving for victory for a number of reasons.

“I’m expecting a massive effort from Halifax,” Hurst said.

“You’d think they’d be driven by, first of all, the disappointment of losing their National League status, particularly how it happened because they gave themselves a great chance after looking dead and buried in the early season.

“But also, I’m sure some of the Halifax players will be in the shop window, and that makes for a difficult game.

“You walk out of that tunnel and onto that pitch on Sunday, there’s going to be a decent crowd in, you can’t help but want to do well.

“Irrespective of the fact that we’ve achieved our main goal this season and Halifax have had a massive disappointment this season, I think on Sunday it’s very much a one-off game.

“I think you could see an entertaining game as well, as it was on Sunday for the Play-Off Final, instead of these cagey affairs which you sometimes get.”

The Mariners came out on top in emphatic fashion in the league meeting at Blundell Park back in October with a 7-0 win, with the National League’s joint-top scorer Padraig Amond bagging four of the goals.

But they came unstuck in the return fixture at the Shay when Halifax got their revenge with a 4-2 victory – a result which caused some unsavoury scenes among the away supporters.

But, following their return to the Football League at Wembley, Hurst is looking forward to renewing rivalries with the Shaymen.

“When they came here, in all fairness, as well as we did on the evening, they didn’t look like they had much fight in them at all.

“You look at the two games, they were interesting games, and again that’s maybe one that brings a smile to my face when I think back to that Halifax game and the nice songs on the terraces that day.

“That all adds to the pleasure you take when you get what you want and what you believe what you could achieve.”

Hurst has utilised his squad throughout the Mariners’ run to the Trophy Final, only choosing to name a stronger squad in the later rounds of the competition.

And after maintaining that his side were always aiming to win the Trophy, he is expected to name another strong line-up for Sunday’s game at Wembley.

But, after achieving their main goal of promotion and the celebrations that followed the victory over Forest Green, Hurst admits he may look to make some changes.

“I haven’t had too much time yet to say which way I’ll be going with the team.

“People often say you shouldn’t let sentiment get in the way of things and wanting to go and win another game of football, but there’s certainly a pull to play certain players in that game.

“That would then lead to people asking ‘is he playing his strongest side?’

“And if you compared it to last Sunday, certainly some people would say no, but these are still good players.

“We’ve had some lads here that have stayed loyal when perhaps other opportunities have arisen, so there is an element of that in my mind.

“But I can guarantee the supporters 100 per cent that it’ll be a team I put out that I think can win us the game.”