Shaymen need to up their game in the attacking third, says Millington ahead of Solihull clash

Chris Millington wants his side to up their game in the attacking third when they take on Solihull Moors on Saturday.
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The Shaymen have been dogged by late goals in recent games, conceding in added time against York, Fylde and Aldershot, depriving them of five extra points that would have seen them sit above Solihull in the National League table.

But the Halifax boss believes it's at the other end of the pitch where his side need to sharpen up.

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"We've got to improve across the pitch because the lads aren't getting loads of chances laid on a plate for them," he told the Courier.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"The lads who started up to had a couple of good chances against Fylde that they missed but then you look at Aldershot and the chances that were missed, in Milli's case they were created by Milli, he made his own chances.

"It's a team effort to create more but off the back of that, we have to be converting more of the chances we create.

"We defend well as a team, we've got the best defensive record in the league because of everybody contributing.

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"We've got to be mindful of the fact that other players have to be doing more to provide assists and the forward lads have to be doing more to have a better conversion rate."

On whether he felt more needed to be done to create chances or finish them, Millington said: "It's both, we've got to create more clear-cut and we've got to convert more of the chances we create.

"We'll focus on all of that, but then the defensive record becomes even better because if we're ahead on 60-70 minutes against Aldershot then we probably don't end up conceding as well because by the 98th minute they're resigned to the fact the game's gone.

"So it's a double edge sword in that sense, if you score more it's a strong possibility we end up having an even better defensive record."

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Town have been guilty of missing some good chances in recent weeks that would have resulted in more points.

When asked if those imperfections are something Shaymen fans might have to accept if no new signings can be made, Millington said: "I think there's two sides to that. I've said before that if there was an absolute nailed-on player who we knew was going to come in and hit the ground running and make an impact from the word go, who was willing to come to us and who fell into certain financial boundaries, then I'm sure the chairman would put his hand in his pocket and make it happen.

"But that aside, then we've got to look at maybe wheeling and dealing a bit, so it might be that we have to raise some money through loaning out our own players or players moving on, to make money available to bring in.

"I wouldn't rule out the possibility of further players coming in but it ain't going to be that we're all of a sudden in a position where we can bring in two, three, four new players.

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"It may be one who we know can help the squad get better, maybe a couple, who knows.

"But it's somewhere in-between. It ain't the case that we're going to be able to bring in a load of new players, but likewise, we wouldn't want to, we think we've got a pretty good squad and we're performing pretty well.

"We just need to be better in our attacking third.

"I'm certainly not going to rule out the possibility but it also will take a bit of work and possibly a bit of creativity to make it happen."

Millington does feel though that there is scope within his squad to improve their attacking output.

"The current squad's a really good squad," he said.

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"Part of the problem we've got is we've got players like Flo Hoti, who's missed way more games than he's been available for, one of our most creative players.

"Angelo Cappello has missed a chunk of the season through international duty and injury.

"Two really important players for us.

"Then you've got other attacking players like Rob Harker, who's missed a huge chunk.

"If we had a fully fit squad and we had that consistency I keep harping on about up the top end of the pitch, I think we can put together a significant push.

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"But we've had other challenges to deal with and when you're missing important creative players it's going to have a negative impact on how creative we are.

"We've got to be careful in not throwing the baby out with the bath water, we know that we've got an area to improve on.

"We also know we've had a difficult time having all our most creative and most attacking players available for any length of time.

"So let's just be a bit considered about it and not make any rash decisions that ultimately might unbalance the squad in a negative sense, we want to make the right decisions to make the squad better."

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Millington added: "If we had conceded a significant amount of goals, like Solihull have, in recent weeks, then what would the feeling be around the club then?

"What would the sense be about what things we've got to put right at the club if that were the case?

"People would be asking more serious questions about us. The fact is that no team's beating us by significant amounts, we're certainly not coming out of games feeling like we've got a load of things to fix.

"We know where we've got to focus our attention and if we do that and improve that then we could end the year in a really healthy position, having played a significant amount of the top teams away from home and having played a significant amount of the top teams at home as well, by the end of December.

"So there's plenty to be optimistic about."

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One area Millington wants to see an improvement in is Halifax's deliveries from corners and free-kicks.

"That was something we discussed after the (Aldershot) game.

"In the early part of the season it was a real strength of ours, that's why Adam Senior was leading scorer at one point because we were a real threat off set-pieces.

"I think we've become less of a threat, partly because the deliveries have become less consistent and partly because we've not been attacking the good deliveries as well as we were in the early part of the season.

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"So yes, absolutely, we want to get back to being as good as we were in the opening ten games on our attacking set-pieces, and it is an area we're paying attention to."

As they did after conceding late on against York and Fylde, The Shaymen face a test of character in bouncing back from Aldershot's added time winner last Saturday.

"I think there's a narrative around the club that something happens that we don't want to happen and then all of a sudden, it's backs-against-the-wall time again, and I don't see it like that," Millington said.

"There's a lot of our play that's really positive, there's a lot of our players who are so far having a good season.

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"We want to score more goals, that's key, and if we do that then I'd suggest that people will look at us and go 'these are a really, really good outfit'.

"We're not in a position where we're having to change shape every week, we're not in a position where we're having to change personnel every week, we're not looking at the squad going 'where's the heart, where's the desire, where's the character?'

"There's bags of that in this squad, so I'd warn against becoming too worried about this team and this squad based on the fact we want to score more goals.

"There's a lot of very, very good news we've got about this team and we've got to be really balanced in how we look at it and not get down about the fact that we've got beaten at Aldershot, in a game we feel we performed well in large portions.

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"It's possibly our Achilles heel as a club that we all of a sudden think we're backs-against-the-wall because we concede a couple of late goals.

"The reality is there's loads of our play that's really positive and we've got to improve a certain aspect of play, much the same as if we were scoring loads of goals and conceding loads, we'd have a different area to attend to, which is maybe something that's going on around Solihull at the moment.

"They're above us in the league probably feel like they're in a world of pain at the moment because things haven't quite gone their way.

"So it's about putting things into perspective."

Solihull also face a test of character in recovering from a 6-1 thrashing at Altrincham last Saturday.

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"It could go either way," Millington said when asked if he felt it was a good time to be playing Solihull.

"What we've got to focus on is what we're doing.

"We've been in that position where we've had a difficult defeat and then we always back ourselves to bounce back from difficult performances.

"I'm sure Solihull will be doing the same, they'll be looking for a reaction, they'll be looking for a response from the players and they'll be looking for that grit and determination you need to get a result when you're off the back of a poor result.

"What we've got to take care of is our own approach to it, and we will approach it in the way we'd approach any game and try and our best to get three points and with a clear focus on what bits of the game we want to improve."