"The lads have acquitted themselves fantastically well out of possession," says Millington after Notts County defeat

Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus BranstonChris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston
Chris Millington. Photo: Marcus Branston
Town boss Chris Millington defended his tactical approach after The Shaymen's 1-0 defeat at Notts County.

Macaulay Langstaff's first-half goal condemned Town to their fourth defeat in five games in an entirely one-sided contest at Meadow Lane.

"Very challenging game, very, very good opposition, their ability to find the spare man and work the ball into areas where the space and the spare man are is unlike anything I've seen at this level previously," Millington said.

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"We knew coming into the game it was going to be an incredible defensive performance that would get us something out of the game and I think, barring one unfortunate mistake which cost us the goal, the lads have acquitted themselves fantastically well out of possession."

Jamie Stott's short back pass let in Langstaff for what proved to be the winning goal.

"We can't give teams, especially the quality of Notts County, a 1-0 lead," Millington said.

"We've got to make sure we cut out the silly errors and we make teams work harder.

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"But what you've got in that is Jamie Stott who has come back a week early from a double fracture of the cheekbone because he's committed and he wants to fight for the cause.

"The focus for our reflections on his performance today are all around the heart of the man, the desire to come and do a job for the team and so many things he did well within the game.

"He made one mistake, it cost us a goal, but I'm dead pleased with what he's done because of the bravery and the courage it took to play."

Town only produced one shot off target, and none on target, in the game.

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"Very difficult, and listen, they stop you because they do what we try and do but they do it better," said Millington.

"As soon as they lose possession, there's three or four of them creating pressure on the ball straight away so you don't have time to settle into your possession.

"We knew it was going to be difficult and early doors we wanted to play the space in-behind and work our way into the game, get ourselves up the pitch.

"That worked to some degree, but it didn't result in good possession.

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"But the aim was always to nullify Notts County until later in the game and then throw the kitchen sink at it.

"Going behind made it a bit more difficult for us because we didn't want to risk going 2-0 behind because that would have killed us off.

"So we had to manage the game and we certainly grew into it and late on we started to impose ourselves a little bit more, but not enough to really deserve anything out of the game."

Responding to the accusation from supporters that Town don't show enough ambition or set-up too negatively, Millington said: "I'd ask them to explain really, because today we've set-up in a different shape to previous shapes.

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"We've been 4-3-3, and having three forwards on the pitch doesn't sound like negative to me.

"Today we have set-up to stifle Notts County and we'd be foolish to not do that, if we'd gone toe-to-toe with Notts County in the current form we're in, then we'd have offered them a chance to make it a much more comfortable win.

"So we set-up with a positive defensive strategy, other than one mistake it worked well.

"But I would disagree that we set-up negatively, I don't think that's the case."

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Striker Rob Harker replaced Mani Dierseruvwe during the second-half.

Asked whether Harker could have played alongside Dierseruvwe in attack, the Town boss said: "Possibly, if we had the energy levels that we need to be able to play with two out-and-out number nines.

"We would need higher energy levels across other areas of the pitch, and maybe at the moment we're lacking one or two players who would offer us that opportunity.

"But we're quite happy with the fact you've got Jamie Cooke, who has scored goals all through the levels coming through to National League, Mani Dierseruvwe has got a good goalscoring record, Rob Harker, I know I keep saying it and people will be bored of it, but he's a great finisher and will become an excellent first-team striker.

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"So we've got opportunities to score goals and we've got players in the team who will do, and if we maintain today's levels of effort and hard work, then I've absolutely no doubt that this group of players will go on and be successful."

Attacker Milli Alli wasn't brought on until the 90th minute.

But when asked if he could have been brought on sooner, Millington said: "No. We changed shape and went to a 4-3-3 towards the end, and if we'd put Milli on in the shape we were playing in I think he'd have found it difficult, because of the type of player he is, to understand what he needed to do to get himself on the ball.

"So no, there was absolutely no reason why he should come on any earlier than when we changed it to a 4-3-3."

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There were chants of "we want Milly out" from some of the travelling Halifax fans.

"It's disappointing but it's understandable, we're in a poor run of form," Millington said.

"We're all working incredibly hard. I think the pleasing thing for me, and the thing the fans should be focusing on and should be proud of, is the way the players have acquitted themselves today, the work rate they've put in, the distance they've travelled in terms of kilometres run, the amount of sprint distance they've done.

"And all that with having to really focus and concentrate on a very difficult opponent and some really challenging rotations.

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"I think that should be the focus, that there's something positive to build on and something they can recognise as something to be proud of from a Halifax Town point of view.

"Listen, they're going to focus on what they want to focus on. My focus has got to be on building on what today was a really committed display by a group of young men who are desperate to do well for the football club."

It's now four defeats in five games for The Shaymen.

"We've got to go to Harrow and put in a performance there, that's the next focus," Millington said.

"The fact is we have looked in recent games slightly jaded, less organised than we were when we were on a good run and maybe slightly fatigued.

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"So to see the display the lads put in today and the amount of energy they've committed to this game, I think gives me great hope that if they can do that on a consistent basis, week in, week out, then within that work ethic and energy there will also be positive results.

"Ultimately that's all the fans want to see, the fans aren't concerned with tactics, they're not concerned with my hot air and bluster, they just want to see the team winning games.

"If we can demonstrate those levels of hard work, concentration and energy on a more regular basis, we'll win plenty of football matches.

"I'm really positive about it, I'm incredibly disappointed with the result but I'm incredibly pleased with the application of the lads and how well they worked together as a team today.

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"I wouldn't pick any one particular player out because I think they were all incredibly committed to the plan and worked incredibly hard to try and get something out of the game."

Yamen Osawe was not involved due to a hamstring strain and will be assessed on Monday.

Angelo Capello missed the game due to a foot injury sustained against Scunthorpe but has a chance of being involved against Harrow.

On Kian Spence, the Town boss said: "We're discussing a more exploratory route to try and get to the bottom of what's wrong."

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