Town bridge the gap in cup encounters

Gareth Seddon strikes at goal during FC Halifax Town's FA Trophy quarter-final with Dartford.
Gareth Seddon strikes at goal during FC Halifax Town's FA Trophy quarter-final with Dartford.
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FC Halifax Town’s double duel with Dartford provided an interesting comparison between The Shaymen and a team they hope to be playing on an equal footing next season.

Town already took Conference National side Lincoln to a replay in the FA Cup, and came heart-stoppingly close to knocking the Darts out of the FA Trophy.

But the fact that the gap appeared to be thinner than a supermodel on Slim Fast perhaps belies the fact that the leap from Conference regional to Conference National may be the biggest in the game.

The jump between non-league and Football League is made easier due to the clubs who gain promotion already being professional, eliminating the most obvious barrier that might have existed in the past.

Promotion to the promised land of the Premier League is also paved with gold in the shape of about £60m.

In comparison reaching the Blue Square Premier lands you the kind of jackpot you might find down the back of the sofa.

Of the four promoted teams in the Conference National, two are in the bottom seven at the time of writing, but the plight of those who have dropped down from the Football League is far more pertinent.

There are eleven former league clubs in the Blue Square Premier, nearly half the teams in the division.

The likes of Grimsby, Wrexham, Luton and Stockport have all enjoyed spells in the second tier of the game, yet now find themselves walking in the extra-thick treacle of the Conference.

And since the Conference North and South were introduced for the 2004-05 season, no team promoted into the Conference National has earned a second successive promotion from it, while four teams have gone straight back down.

That figure would have been higher but for the financial collapses that have peppered the division, giving some clubs at the bottom of the pile a reprieve.

But these cases of clubs falling by the wayside off the pitch also emphasise the lengths that some clubs feel they have to go to in order to stay in the league.

Halifax will hope to have that challenge in front of them next season, but if their meetings with those above them this campaign are anything to go by, that gap will start to look even smaller than it does now.