Town must get back on track

Goal mouth action as Halifax Town attack Nuneaton
Goal mouth action as Halifax Town attack Nuneaton

Town play the first of seven games in March when they entertain Harrogate Town at the Shay tomorrow and would like nothing more than a positive start to what promises to be a crucial stage of the campaign.

The Shaymen go into the game third in the Blue Square Bet North table despite the recent double defeat at the hands of rivals Nuneaton.

How damaging those losses were in Town’s pursuit of leaders Hyde FC, who are now 11 points ahead of Neil Aspin’s side, only time will tell.

But they know that if they can string a series of good results together they can secure their place in the end of season knockout.

They have done it before under Aspin and prior to their current three-match winless run went 10 without a defeat, including eight wins.

While the Shaymen’s recent results have been disappointing, Harrogate have picked up as they bid to finally banish thoughts of relegation.

They drew 1-1 at home to Stalybridge Celtic at the weekend and that followed a run of three wins in four games - victories coming against Gainsborough Trinity, Hinckley United and Bishop‘s Stortford.

Overall, they have won four games on the road, although three of those have come against sides currently in the bottom four.

The only exception was a 1-0 win at Gainsborough on February 18, a result that enabled Harrogate to complete a league double over the Lincolnshire outfit.

The sides have met competitively at the Shay before, Town winning an FA Cup tie 4-0 with goals from Tom Baker, Danny Holland, Nathan Taylor and, almost inevitably, Jamie Vardy.

That game was played in front of more than 1,800 fans in October 2010 and something similar, while unlikely given Town’s three game winless streak, would be good.

The teams met earlier in the season at Wetherby Road, the September 24 meeting ending in a rather drab goalless draw although Town should have won as Baker missed a penalty.

Anton Foster and Terry Dixon, now departed from the Shay, started that game while Kevin Holsgrove, who has since played against the Shaymen for Vauxhall Motors, came off the bench for his debut.

It was boss Aspin’s first competitive return to the club he served with distinction as a player, coach and manager before eventually leaving to join Halifax in the summer of 2009.

The ex-Harrogate factor does not end with Aspin - five of the players likely to feature for the Shaymen tomorrow also played there.

Aaron Hardy, Danny Lowe and James Dean arrived at the Shay from Wetherby Road with the manager while Holland and Ryan Toulson, playing his first game before a one-match ban kicks in, also played with the North Yorkshire club.

There will be no shortage of incentive to get a result for the men in blue.

Follow the action from the game with live updates on the Courier Sport Twitter page