Shaymen to play behind-closed-doors game on Monday as part of Wembley preparations

FC Halifax Town will play in a behind-closed-doors game on Monday as part of their preparations for the FA Trophy final.
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The Shaymen returned to training from their week's break on Monday, with the players having a rest day on Wednesday as normal.

Town may also train on Saturday before their friendly game at the start of next week.

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"We think we've got a really challenging opposition to play against who are going to present an awful lot of the same sort of problems Gateshead will and give us the opportunity to find the solutions," Millington said.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"But also they'll give us the opportunity to try and hurt them in the same way we'll look to hurt Gateshead.

"We think one game's enough for us, we don't need any more than that, the lads are well-prepared after a particularly long season.

"But playing this opposition in particular will give us a a real chance to prepare really thoroughly for the tactical battle.

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"You don't want too long off and when you've got people like Luke Summerfield, Jack Senior, Jesse Debrah, Tom Clarke, Fidel O'Rourke, Max Wright and Jordan Keane who are all in need of minutes to get that match-sharpness, then that certainly helps.

"But a lot of the training programme we implement is match-realistic so it shouldn't be a million miles off that anyway."

Millington says the week off last week was hugely beneficial for his players.

"The lads have come back looking incredibly sharp, looking very energetic and rejuvenated," Millington said.

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"The opportunity for a good few of them to get away, get a good bit of sunshine, rest some very, very weary legs has been hugely beneficial and we're already seeing the benefits of that."

The Town boss says there has been a heavy focus on "getting the legs going again and getting people sharp" since training resumed on Monday.

"But also with a focus on what we want to do to prepare for Gateshead, so there's little elements of that already being drip-fed into the sessions," he said.

"We'll train the rest of the week, we'll be slightly heavier on the distances and the time on the pitch on Thursday and Friday, with the focus on potentially doing something lighter on Saturday and then we go into a friendly on Monday.

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"So the rest of the week is about getting some real detailed work done but also increasing the load and getting our lads prepared for the opposition we've got lined-up on Monday."

When asked what he hopes to get out of the two weeks of training before next Sunday's final, Millington said: "It's two-fold really, and both are equally as important objectives in terms of having the physical objective of making sure everybody's fit but also fully prepared to perform to their absolute maximum for the duration of the game, be that 90 minutes or more.

"Also making sure we've got all the answers to the tactical questions Gateshead will pose.

"We know exactly what those are, the lads are pretty well-versed in what those are going to be but we need to make sure all the what-ifs are covered, therefore they can't spring any surprises on us on the day.

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"So it's about preparing as thoroughly as we can for those tactical battles as well as making sure we're the better prepared team in that sense."

Millington says extensive analysis has taken place on Town's opposition at Wembley.

"We do an awful lot of work on every opposition but the time we've got in preparation for this game and the time we've had since the semi-final against Altrincham has allowed the analysts to do an awful lot of work in terms of preparation," he said.

"We've got all the statistical information anyone could want going into a game, all the things that back-up the information that people will be intuitively aware of about Gateshead, about their strengths in possession and maybe some of their shortcomings as well.

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"So we're absolutely covered in terms of having all the details we could possibly want and it allows us to really narrow-focus our work on the training ground and make sure the lads are thoroughly prepared for the threats Gateshead carry, the way they score goals and the way they concede goals and what areas present the biggest opportunity for us against them."

The Town boss also said the longer build-up to the FA Trophy final has allowed them to delve a little deeper than usual in their preparation.

"We've got the opportunity to do things slightly more thoroughly, we've got more time in the training ground in preparation for this game, we've got more time to drill into the statistical analysis," he said.

"We'll always do opposition analysis very thoroughly and we've got a really excellent analyst at the club.

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"But what this time has allowed him to do is really drill down into the statistical analysis and data, so we know how they will build and where their threats maybe come from.

"We might actually know more about that side of Gateshead than they know themselves, ao we go into the game better covered in that sense than we would any other game, purely because we've got more time to prepare for it."

Millington says he is feeling relaxed about the final and is looking forward to it.

"I think the butterflies will probably kick in a day or two before," he said, "when we start preparing to travel, that's probably the time when I'll start to feel it a bit more intensely.

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"But at the moment we're looking at a football match that we're well capable of winning.

"The two games we've had so far this season against Gateshead have been good games.

"They've had moments within them, but likewise we've had some really positive moments.

"We deserved the win we got at home and I think away from home it was a really accomplished away performance and all it was lacking was a goal on our part.

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"Gateshead will be fully aware they've not scored against us yet this season. They're not alone in that.

"Clearly that'll be what they're setting their stall out to try and achieve.

"But we go into the game really confident we can achieve something."

On whether he knows his starting 11 for the FA Trophy final, the Town boss said: "No. Certain positions are easier than others to pick, some of it will be guided by our objectives within the game, how we're going to hurt Gateshead and how we're going to prevent them from hurting us.

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"Some of it will be guided by the preparation over the next week and a half."

And on Town's plans for travelling down to Wembley, Millington said: "Not in absolute detail just yet, we've got one or two things to confirm about the journey down.

"But certainly we've got an idea of what time we'll be leaving, we know where and when we'll be training en route.

"What happens after that, there's still some timings to confirm. We know what will happen, we're just nailing down exactly when."