Sutton 1-1 FC Halifax Town: We’re progressing and we’re learning, says Fullarton

FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jamie Fullarton
FC Halifax Town v Gateshead. Jamie Fullarton

Town boss Jamie Fullarton said his side’s 1-1 draw at Sutton demonstrates the progress his team is making.

Dayle Southwell cancelled out Kenny Davis’ free-kick to earn The Shaymen a commendable point against a team who lost in the play-off semi-finals last season.

“I think it’s a reflection of how far we’ve come that we’ve come away to a team that finished third in the league, lost only one game this season, and we’ve got a point, and we’re a little disappointed,” Fullarton said.

“It’s great credit to the players. I talked about my barometer last season - red is when you worry, amber means you’re OK but green is you’re not concerned - and today I never came out of green as a manager.

“And that reflects the players. How they went about their business in very difficult circumstances.

“We’ve gone from playing at home to a change of surface against a team that has a different style that they’re very effective with having won two promotions and had a good cup run, and finished third last year.

“I’m almost talking myself into being reasonably happy, but we’re not because of the standards we’re setting.”

Fullarton thought his team matched Sutton on the day.

“You plan and you prepare but you’ve got 11 trying to stop that plan,” he said.

“It’s knowing what you’re up against and can you match that? I think we did.

“We’re always disappointed when we lose goals but if you look at the game in terms of chances created and pressure on our goalkeeper, we’ve come away from home against the team that finished third last year and only lost once this season, and we didn’t have a save to make.

“I think that reflects how the players defended - and every man, to a man, showed they defended and attacked as a team.

“We created some good opportunities whilst limiting them to no shots at goal.”

When asked if he was disappointed with the manner of Sutton’s goal, which saw Town concede a free-kick after losing possession inside the hosts’ half, Fullarton said: “Yeah always. We’re a work in progress. Although you’re disappointed with the goal, what you’ve got to look at is why you’re disappointed, because of your personal pride.

“We were quite comfortable in the game at that point.

“When you really should be disappointed is if it’s a conscious decision to make a mistake or not do something.

“I think with the group we have I don’t have any doubt on that aspect. Never in my time so far have I had any doubt there’s been a conscious decision not to do what’s been asked of them.

“The only thing guaranteed is mistakes in football, wrong decisions, but it’s how you react to that.

“To go behind and come back, we’re progressing and we’re learning. It was no different than Salford where we got ourselves back in the game and got sucker-punched.

“Whereas today we didn’t and if anything we looked more likely to go and win the three points.”

And Fullarton also thought the result showed his players are growing as the season goes on.

“At the end of the day managers are satellite navigations and if your players don’t follow the route, what tends to happen is they hit road blocks or traffic,” he said.

“I think that result today, combined with other results, including the ones we’ve lost, shows the progress of the group and their ability to learn, which is great for any coach to have a group willing to listen and learn.

“That’s a pleasing aspect.”

Ben Tomlinson went off injured with a jarred knee in the first-half after landing awkwardly on Sutton’s pitch.

“Obviously we’re playing on a surface where there is no give with something like that,” he said.

Niall Maher, who has been out injured recently, returned on the bench at Sutton.

“It’s a great boost for us to have Niall back in the group because it gives us options and competition, and enables us to manage the game tactically at any point if we see fit.

“But we’re going to try and win every game we play and I think today we showed that by how we went about it.

“When there’s three minutes of injury time to go, I’m not sitting back or making a substitute to kill the game.

“All I’m looking for is for players to manage the game better as opposed to me intervening to change the game.

“Intervention is my last resort but it’s good to have that option on the bench, and once we get the others back there’ll be great competition for places.”

Winger Mekhi McLeod wasn’t involved in the matchday squad, with Fullarton adding: “You pick a team and a squad that you feel is ready to give you not only the best opportunity to win the game but to make changes if and when you feel you need to.”