Neil Aspin believes his FC Halifax Town side’s first-half performance was as good as they’ve played all season as they beat Dartford 3-1 in their FA trophy third round replay at Droylsden’s Butchers Arms ground.
A dominant first 45 minutes helped Town establish a 2-0 half-time lead thanks to goals from Marc Roberts and Scott Boden, with Steve Williams sealing the win after the restart.
Town will now host Wrexham at the Shay on Tuesday (7.45pm kick-off) in the quarter-finals of the competition, and Aspin was happy to end a difficult week with a win.
He said: “I’m really pleased to get through. We want to do well in this competition and we’ve taken it very seriously.
“We’ve had a lot of disruption this week so it’s been pleasing to get the game played and get through.
“I think the first 45 minutes would arguably be the best we’ve played all season.
“We had a good balance between strength, passing, movement and energy. We made so many chances you wouldn’t have argued if we’d been four or five up at half-time.
“We deserved to be but you need to take your chances.
“I was really enjoying watching us play. Some of the football was excellent, on a tricky pitch. I thought we were excellent.”
Danny Schofield again caught the eye with a commanding display in central midfield for Halifax, and Aspin praised the 34-year-old’s contribution.
“I think he’ll develop into a good player when he gets more experience under his belt!” joked Aspin.
“He’s certainly doing well for us at the moment. He’s enjoying his football.
“It’s great to see an experienced player who’s here to play football.
“It’s certainly not about the money. He’s probably earned good money in his career, it’s purely about wanting to play football.
“I’m enjoying watching him. His footwork is excellent but he’s got a desire to work hard as well and that’s what’s impressed me about him.”
Loanee Ross Killock made his first start for Town alongside Roberts and Williams in a back three, which Aspin felt worked well.
“We know the lad on Macca’s side is a threat so we wanted him to spend his time chasing Scott McManus which was the way it worked out,” he said.
“They changed it in the second-half so we changed it at the end but it worked really well.
“It gave us a good shape, good foundation. For anybody watching, you’d see three centre-backs in a positive formation, not in a negative.
“It gave us the springboard to get lots of players forward. You can have lots of systems but it depends how you use it and that allowed us to push our wing-backs forward and get bodies into their half.”
Aspin was frustrated at having to move the game from the Shay and is concerned about the state of the surface for the remainder of the campaign.
He added: “It’s very frustrating when you can’t get onto your pitch and even more annoying when the pitch gets ruined by a rugby game which is only a friendly.
“We knew we were in big trouble with the state of the pitch if that game went ahead and unfortunately we’re paying the consequences of that.
“I’d like to thank Droylsden for their help today, they’ve been very good. They’ve done a lot of work themselves to get the game on so we’re thankful for that.
“It means our pitch should be in a position where we can play on Tuesday.
“I don’t know what the surface is going to be like but you’d have to say from now until the end of the season it’ll be tricky.
“But we’ve showed today even on a tricky surface we can still play and we must keep trying to do that.”