"I believe we can be up there come the end of the season" - Shaymen set for return to action at Maidenhead on Saturday

Halifax boss Chris Millington believes his side will be a promotion contender come the end of the season.
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The Shaymen return to action on Saturday at Maidenhead, following their enforced break last weekend having been knocked out of the FA Cup.

Town are sixth in the National League after a good start to the campaign, and Millington reckons his team have what it takes to maintain their place among the promotion chasers.

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"We're a long way off, there's an awful lot of football to be played, there'll be ups and downs," he told the Courier.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"I think one of the things we've got to learn as a club - players, staff, people behind-the-scenes and fans - is that one win doesn't turn us into a promotion side and one defeat doesn't turn us into a relegation side.

"There's going to be a lot of ups and downs along the way, we're a young squad, we'll make mistakes, we'll fall short at times.

"But we'll be exciting and we'll win plenty of games and I believe we can be up there come the end of the season.

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"But let's not fall into the trap of thinking one win or one defeat is a sign of success or failure, it's not, it's a process. It's going to take time but we will definitely be in and around it come the end of the season in my opinion."

Town initially had a game arranged against Barnsley for last weekend but they withdrew due to their FA Cup tie on Friday night.

"So we took that as an opportunity to give the players some extra rest," Millington said.

"It's bittersweet because we'd have liked to have progressed in the FA Cup and we feel the club's due an FA Cup run.

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"But if you're going to look for a silver lining, the fact we've been getting through the last few games with so many players out and using the same players over and over again, then it was a welcome opportunity to rest and recover for some lads.

"There was a real high energy to the squad this week, and some real high quality play, so the early signs are that it's done us good."

After a hectic run of 11 games in 43 days, concluding with their 1-1 draw at York, Town now have nine games in the next 46 days until the end of the year.

"It feels like we've got to put an awful lot of effort into finishing the first-half of the fixtures off," Millington said.

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"Before the end of the year we've got the rest of the teams we've yet to play in the league so it's getting that round of fixtures done that's on our mind, making sure we do everything we can to finish that round of fixtures off as strong as possible.

"It's hurt us having the constant chopping and changing due to injuries but in recent weeks, just having that consistent starting 11, albeit partly enforced, in some respects, it has benefitted us to build those connections, get starts for Kane (Thomson-Sommers) and Flo (Hoti), who missed a large part of the early stage of the season with injuries.

"Things like that are starting to help us find some rhythm and start to play a brand of football that we've been hoping to work towards since the beginning of the season."

Town have deployed a 3-5-2 system of late, with Florent Hoti playing as a number ten and Milli Alli up-front with Aaron Cosgrave.

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"The 3-5-2 is something we've used in the last couple of games, partly to do with personnel but also partly to do with the fact we wanted to get that extra body high up the pitch," Millington said.

"It didn't work so well in the 4-2-3-1 we tried but one of the key features of recent games is we've been getting more bodies in the opposition box, so that might suit the players available to us at the moment more than any other shape."

On Saturday's opponents Maidenhead, Millington said: "They're a funny team really, in terms of how the play and their approach, we know what to expect.

"In terms of the fact they score goals, there's no shortage of goals in their games but they're also vulnerable to conceding them as well, so it'll be an interesting fixture.

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"They have had some really positive results so far this season, most recently a good win against Eastleigh, they've had draws recently against Rochdale, Oldham and Chesterfield, which are all positive performances and positive results.

"Much the same as Kidderminster, we can't take them lightly and assume, just because of their league position, it's going to be an easy day for us, it's not.

"It'll be tough, very combative, very physical and it'll probably won by the odd goal. There won't be anyone running away with it, so we'll need to make sure we do as much a possible to be the team who win by that odd goal."

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