"Lots more work to do but certainly positive signs" - Millington says Town are heading in the right direction

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington
Chris Millington says there are positive signs that The Shaymen are heading in the right direction.

Town's sticky patch at the turn of the year saw them drop out of the play-off picture, with six games without a win, but three victories on the bounce have seen them make up some of that lost ground.

The loss of top-scorer Milli Alli has prompted Millington to initiate a change in style and the Halifax manager says the signs are there that it is working.

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"Clearly getting better, people don't want to hear stats and figures and all that, but we know where we're at, we know what we're trying to achieve in terms of our performances," Millington told the Courier.

"Anybody who's watched us has seen in the last few weeks, even in the defeats, we're creating a lot more shooting opportunities.

"We've had more shots on target, we arguably could have been three or four up at half-time against Woking.

"So we know where we're at. By no means are we the finished article and we've got to keep striving to get better but I think one thing I'm really impressed with in this group of players is I've never seen a National League team transition in shape midway through a season and transition in style quite as quickly and successfully as this group has shown they can do.

"So lots more work to do but certainly positive signs."

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Millington feels the change in approach is resulting in a greater attacking output.

"We've gone from being a team who averaged 39 per cent possession in games prior to Christmas to being a team who average in excess of 52 per cent possession in games now," he said.

"I know there's a small section of fans who seem to think we need to get it forward quicker but actually, we're one of the top seven or eight teams in the league for progressive passes, so we're one of the highest teams for passing forward, which is something we've targeted the lads to improve.

"So we're doing that a lot more and that's resulting in us getting a lot more touches in the opposition box, it's resulting in us getting more shooting opportunities and we're starting to see a lot more scoring opportunities as well.

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"So there are definite transfers on what we're asking the lads to do from what we're seeing on the training ground to what we're seeing on a matchday.

"But we can't pat ourselves on the back because we've done that in the past and it's been our undoing, so we've got to keep striving to be better in all of those aspects of our play otherwise we'll be brought back down to earth with a bump."

When asked if there has been a change in mindset as well, Millington said: "I think we've maybe revisited some of the thinking about hoe we approach things and we've got back to focusing on the next game being the most important game.

"There's only ever three points up for grabs at any one time and that's what we've really got to focus our energy on, otherwise if we start looking too far down the line we fail to pay enough attention to what we've got to do to get those three points."

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On whether he felt Town's slump in form was well and truly behind them now, Millington said: "Again, it comes back to just focusing on the next game and doing the very best we can.

"I think if we take care of those objectives as well as we possibly can, we're going to win more games than we lose and the games we lose don't need to be the beginning of another crisis, in inverted commas.

"I think we've seen that - although they were a couple of very jarring defeats against Aldershot and Solihull, I think when you watch the games back and you take the emotion out of them, there were large portions of both games where we were the better team and we were in control.

"Where we failed was in our own box more than anything, looking after our defensive responsibilities.

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"But we've got to measure things in quite a dispassionate way where we can focus on the facts, and the facts were we were moving forward from that transition of shape and style, and now we've established a foundation to keep building on.

"But we go away to Dagenham on Saturday, we lose that game and a lot of people think it's back to square one and it doesn't have to be that"

Millington still wants to see more from his side.

"There's got to be more because we've got ambitions and we want to have a season that is something to celebrate come the end of it," he said.

"But the main focus is making sure that we're the best team on Saturday against Dagenham and do the things we're trying to do as effectively as we possibly can, and if we do that then there's no reason why we shouldn't get three points.

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"But everything depends on the next game and that's the way we've got to keep viewing it."

Millington says the unpredictable nature of the fifth tier means the race for the play-offs will remain wide open.

"The really interesting thing about the National League, and probably this season more than ever, is anybody can beat anybody," he said.

"You see it with Ebbsfleet getting a draw against Chesterfield and any number of other results we can pick out recently where Fylde have overturned the odds to get a result and Woking have beaten teams above them in the shape of Oldham and getting a really credible draw against Hartlepool.

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"So it is one of those divisions where there's going to be some really challenging periods and some challenging games for teams who are aspiring to finish in and around the play-offs.

"What we've got to do is just make sure that we're as consistent as we can possibly be and we go into every game with absolute clarity as to how we're going to try and win it, and if we do that then there's no reason why we shouldn't have what we define as a successful season, but that's on us."

Town's recent run has put them back in the mix for a play-off spot though.

"Any team in the top-half of the table can still do it and I think will have a chance, it's about who takes care of business most effectively," he said.

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"Our way of doing that is making sure that we focus all our energies on the upcoming game.

"It's a complete side issue really and I think the danger is that the play-offs become the focus and we ignore what we've got to do today to win on Saturday.

"And then beyond that begs the question 'well, if we make the play-offs, does that define a successful season?', well no, because if we get there then we've got to win the next game to keep progressing through the play-offs.

"So that mantra is one that I'm religiously sticking to and I'm going to make sure that everyone around us does as well."

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