"For me, we're the hardest working team in the division" - Millington praises Shaymen's attitude and work rate as they aim to move back into the play-off places against Rochdale

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Town boss Chris Millington has praised the attitude and work rate of his side as they aim to move back into the top seven on Saturday.

A win at home to Rochdale should see Halifax regain a play-off place, with the three teams within reach of them - Aldershot, Gateshead and Solihull - all facing away games, including a trip to leaders Chesterfield for Aldershot.

When asked if he felt Saturday's game represented a chance to build some momentum after last weekend's win at Gateshead, Millington said: "New game, new opponents so we'll approach it in that vein.

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"Like Jim McNulty said a few weeks ago, they're a team who like to try and play like Gateshead, he feels Gateshead are the best in the league at what they do.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"So we've got to view it as an opportunity for us.

"Reflecting on the Gateshead game, they were phenomenal in their ball retention, they achieved somewhere around 800 passes which is unbelievable really.

"But what's more unbelievable is that around 400 of those were lateral or backwards, and over a third of their possession was in their defensive third.

"Rochdale are not dissimilar in the fact that they want to dominate possession, they can do that, as long as the possession is square and backwards and largely in their own defensive third, that's absolutely fine.

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"As soon as they go forward we'll be looking to take the ball off them and if we can't hit them on the counter we'll stay in possession and look to dominate possession in their half as and when we can.

"It shouldn't be a dissimilar type of fixture but with us being at home we might expect to have a little bit more of the ball.

"As boring as it is, it's the same old clichés but it's true, we approach every game on an individual basis but clearly the longer you go on winning streaks or unbeaten runs, the more confidence you get and the more belief grows in the camp so we want to try and achieve that."

One of the main criticisms levelled at Millington's team this season is they have not been entertaining enough, especially at home.

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"Maybe, I don't know, that's people's opinion," Millington said on the subject.

"Listening to Rochdale's interviews and reading their reports, they'll talk a lot about injuries and problems they've had off the field - they want to spend a day in our shoes with the amount of injuries we've had, the amount of creative players we've had missing.

"It's meant opportunities for other players to come in, but we've certainly been starved of our more creative, ball playing midfielders this season, so that tees into it and that is a reason why sometimes we don't have the incisive passing we'd like and the ability to stay on the ball as long as we'd like.

"But one thing I would come back with on that is that, for me, we're the hardest working team in the division, I think we're the best out of possession in terms of our structure, how we work, how cohesive we are.

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"I think the concentration levels and the levels of communication amongst the team are through the roof, so there's an awful lot we're better than other teams at.

"If we get a fully fit squad at any stage, then people will see the ability we've got to control games with the ball as well as without.

"We hear a lot of these possession based teams talking about controlling games but not actually hurting teams.

"We want to control games both when we've got it, by hurting oppositions, and we want to control games when we've not got it by forcing teams to play the way we want them to play.

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"So there's a lot of things we're doing very well and that's what we've got to remember when we hear those negative comments."

Another issue that has hampered Town this season has been a lack of goals, with only two teams in the National League scoring fewer than their tally of 26.

On his two forwards Rob Harker and Aaron Cosgrave, Millington said: "They bring different things Rob and Aaron, and don't forget Jamie Cooke as well, we've still got Cookie available who's a number nine, played an awful lot of his football away from Halifax Town as a striker.

"All three of those can be viewed as competing for that number nine shirt.

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"But we know they all bring us varying degrees of success in terms of how we want to play so they'll keep pushing each other and depending on the opposition and the type of games we have, and the run of results we get, will dictate who gets the nod."

When asked whether he wanted more from his forwards, Millington said: "It's something we look and talk about an awful lot but the reality is we've got to make sure we're creating good opportunities for our forwards to finish.

"Look at Saturday, two wonderful goals that won the game for us, we've had a couple of other good chances in the game, but with more creative players on the pitch I'd expect to be creating more opportunities for the forwards.

"So as long as they work hard and keep sticking to a game-plan for us, then they're going to be doing an awful lot to keep themselves in our thinking.

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"As soon as their effort levels drop, then we've got a problem. They can't afford to let that happen."

Millington has no doubt the Town fans will relish the occasion on Saturday, with what is expected to be a strong travelling contingent from Rochdale being given the Skircoat Stand.

"We know it will probably be the best performance on the terraces this season come Saturday and rightly so," said the Halifax boss.

"We're up against a local rival, they'll come in numbers, that's when our fans are at their best.

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"I've absolutely no concerns about the performance we'll get off the terraces on Saturday, we saw it time and again last season with the visit of Oldham, Wrexham, Notts County, we were outstanding on the terraces.

"So we don't have any doubt the fans will do their part on Saturday."

The game against Rochdale is the first of three matches in just over a week during the festive period, with Town also facing a double-header with Altrincham.

"They're the games we really enjoy and really relish," Millington said.

"Good footballing sides, good tactical battles.

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"In most cases, oppositions who were in and around when we were trying to recruit players, we're often battling against these types of teams and the heavier budgets of the Rochdales, the Oldhams, the Altrinchams, to try and compete.

"So when we get the opportunity to do it on the pitch, it's even more exciting."

Millington added: "We've got to be better against the teams at the other end of the table because we should be.

"We're a team who expects to be in the top-half, we want to be in the play-off places, so we've got to do better against the lesser teams for want of a better phrase.

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"But against these teams, these are great opportunities because not only is it a chance for us to pick up three points but it's a chance for us to starve a competitor of three points as well, so it has a bit of added meaning in that sense."