"We're desperate to finish as high as we can" - Town boss Millington targets strong end to league season

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Town boss Chris Millington has called on The Shaymen to end their league campaign on a high.

Halifax host already relegated Maidstone on Saturday aiming to maintain their excellent recent run, which has seen them beat Wrexham and York and edge past Altrincham to reach the FA Trophy final.

Town have only lost once in their last ten games, winning three of their last four, and Millington wants a positive, productive end to the league campaign over the remaining five matches.

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"We're desperate to finish as high as we can, clearly that's not going to be a play-off finish but if we can get ourselves into the top half of the table that'd be fantastic," he said.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

"But more importantly, it's maintaining the standards and making sure we approach every game with that aggressiveness and that front-foot mentality that's not only making us very hard to beat but also earning us a good number of chances each game.

"That is the most important thing for us going to the last few games of the season, and also giving us a really solid platform not only for the FA Trophy final, but also for the start of next season.

"If we can put a solid run together between now and the end of the season it means we can start the new campaign with confidence."

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Town's upturn in form and their upcoming Wembley appearance have helped forge a feel-good factor at the club after a season of disappointment.

"It feels like we wanted it to feel at the start of the season," Millington said.

"I'm going to stop going on about all the reasons it's been a tough season but it feels like the monkey's off our back now in that sense.

"The run of bad luck, the adversity we had to face week-in, week-out, it just seems to have gone and at the moment, all we're having to do is face an opposition made up of 11 players.

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"Now we're showing what we can do and the fans are right on board and backing the lads.

"It does feel like the club's moving forward and going in the direction we all want it to.

"But we've got to remember that's quickly lost and there's no bigger banana skin than Maidstone at home, so we've all got to be right on our mettle and perform to our best.

"That goes down from the staff to the squad and the fans - the better they can be, the better I'd expect the lads to be."

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When asked why he felt Town's form had picked up recently, Millington said: "I think there's a number of reasons but the biggest things I'd put it down to is we've had pretty consistent player availability and team selection, which is something we've not been blessed with this season for the most part.

"The energy and the work ethic of the front lads working as hard as they have out of possession has been phenomenal.

"It has a ripple effect throughout the team, it means the back line can hold a higher line, it means the midfielders can be a bit closer when the ball's played into midfield, it means we're nicking things back and we're really aggressive in our press.

"The confidence and the willingness of the front line to do that work has had a great impact.

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"And clearly our biggest issue this season has been sticking the ball in the back of the net, and we're now doing that a bit more, and there's more players contributing to that.

"But again, we can't get too carried away, we're still bottom half of the table and we want to be in the top half, and if we're going to achieve that we've got to maintain that humility and keep doing the things that have got us on this run."

Town also go into the Maidstone game having scored three goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season.

"We're more of a goal threat," Millington said.

"We know it's the hardest part of the game.

"The problem grows in your head and the communal head of the team when it's not going in the back of the net, and the problem can feel like it's impossible to solve.

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"But now we are putting the ball in the back of the net, it doesn't seem like such a big issue and you feel like we could score every time we go forward.

"We've got to keep doing the things we've mentioned, but it feels like if we do then we are going to score goals and we are going to be in a position where we should win games."

Maidstone are rock-bottom of the National League, without a win in 22 league games and without a goal in more than five hours of football.

And after the raucous nature of his team's last two matches, Millington says there will need to be a bit more self-motivation from his side on Saturday.

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"Hugely important that we show we've got that about us," he said.

"I thought Monday was a small example of that, where we've come off the back of two really huge fixtures and it could have seemed like 'we've just got to turn up and we'll do the job' so I was really pleased with how the lads approached the game.

"We'll need much more of that against Maidstone.

"They're the things we've got to make sure we do so much better going into the start of next season - we've got to be able to roll out back-to-back wins game after game after game if we want to improve and finish where we want to be."

Millington is also keen to see as many Halifax fans at The Shay as possible on Saturday, after a bumper home crowd watched Good Friday's win over Wrexham

"The fans were amazing on Monday," Millington said.

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"Coops (Andy Cooper) mentioned they were singing for a wave at one point and I didn't hear them!

"So apologies for that, but it was quickly followed by a boo, so it's good they're not giving me any quarter!

"Hopefully those who came on Friday to the Wrexham game who aren't regular attenders at The Shay really enjoyed the game and the atmosphere.

"All the fans contributed to a fantastic atmosphere on Friday so my message would be come and do that again, come and create an atmosphere the lads really want to perform in.

"We've seen how they can perform in high-pressure games and ones where there's a fantastic atmosphere, so if the fans can help create that type of atmosphere then all the better for us."