HALIFAX TOWN v WOKING
12:00am, Sat 8th Sep 2007
Halifax Town v Woking
7.45pm on Tuesday 11 September 2007
With great respect to the good citizens of Halifax, a long trip to the Shay Stadium is not an enticing prospect at the best of times but travelling there on a Tuesday evening is out of the question for all but a handful of Woking fans. However, that?s the downside of the Setanta deal: like Premiership fans, the timing of our matches is now at the whim of the television moguls. To make matters worse, the Shaymen seem to be picking up some form just as we are due to visit them. Our defence will have to be at its most resilient to fend off the attentions of Halifax?s new strike partnership of Andy Campbell and Jon Shaw.
One win (Stafford away), five draws and one defeat (Salisbury away) is the Cards? record in the opening seven games of the season. This can be regarded as a decent start, given all the circumstances. Frank has a small, (genuinely!) young and inexperienced squad. Realistically, a mid-table position was the most that could be expected at the beginning of the season and it is probably quite an achievement to have avoided a heavy defeat along the way so far. But there is inevitably some anxiety about our inability to date to turn draws into wins, especially at home, where all four games have been drawn so far. The consequence is that we have now slipped to 19th position in the table, but with 5 points separating us from the relegation places. A win against Halifax on Tuesday or, perhaps more realistically, at home to Altrincham next Saturday would make a big difference! It is probably fair to say too that we have not had a particularly tough start to the season, having not had to face any of the likes of Torquay, Stevenage, Exeter and Oxford. The hope must be that, as the team gels and gains more confidence, we can take the game more to opponents and create a few more scoring opportunities.
The Cards will travel to Halifax with Matt Gray (due to have his groin operation last Thursday) and Liam Marum (still recovering from a leg injury) both definitely missing. There are doubts too about Tom Hutchinson, who?s missed the last two games with a sore big toe, and Bradley Quamina, who was stretchered off in injury time in the game against Weymouth. But the week?s break since our last game should have helped. It will be interesting to see if Izzy Harusha and James Younghusband figure on this occasion.
Off the pitch, the encouraging news is that an important first step has been taken in achieving the proposed ground redevelopment, with the Borough Council?s agreement to sell some land to the Club to enable it to put forward a scheme to the Planning Committee for the redevelopment of Kingfield. If we can avoid relegation, and secure the ground redevelopment, it will be a memorable season!
Chris Wilder, like Frank Gray, has to live within a tight budget and has similarly got a small first team squad, although in previous seasons he hasn?t been slow to bring in loan players. Among the players released in the summer were strikers Chris Senior (now with Altrincham); former AFC Wimbledon favourite, Shane Smeltz; Gus Uhlenbeek; and Craig Strong. Wilder has since released former Carlisle midfielder Chris Billy, who has joined Farsley Celtic, and has allowed defender Greg Young to go on a month?s loan to Alfreton to regain fitness. Coming through the door at the Shay were Daryl Taylor, a 22 year-old winger who was with Tamworth last season; former captain Steve Bushell, returning to the club after a spell at Altrincham; and Rob Scott, a 33 year-old full back from Macclesfield. Anthony Griffith, a 20 year-old midfielder has also joined the club on loan from Doncaster till the end of the year. A potentially significant transfer-deadline day signing was that of striker Jon Shaw from Burton Albion. If he forms a strong partnership with top scorer, Andy Campbell, the Shaymen could again be a force to be reckoned with. Among some familiar names re-signing were strikers Steve Torpey and Lewis Killeen and defenders Adam Quinn and Matt Doughty. Also in the squad is Frank Gray?s nephew, 20 year-old defender Nicky Gray, son of Eddie.
SEASON SO FAR
The Shaymen have made a poor-ish start to the season. They lost their opening game of the season 2-1 at Weymouth, Tom Kearney levelling the scores with 15 minutes to go before conceding a late winner. Two disappointing home draws followed. Halifax were 2-0 up against Altrincham thanks to two quick goals from danger man Andy Campbell but allowed Alty to level things up by half-time. Next up came a dull 0-0 draw against Histon. Over the Bank Holiday weekend the Shaymen went down 1-0 at Ebbsfleet United but had a morale-boosting 3-0 home win over Droylsden, with Andy Campbell notching a hat-trick. On 1 September Halifax did well to gain a point at Oxford United, Steve Torpey scoring an equaliser from the spot in a 1-1 draw. Last Thursday, in a televised encounter, the Shaymen triumphed 3-2 at Stafford Rangers. Lewis Killeen put them in front but Stafford took a 2-1 lead before Jon Shaw grabbed two goals in the last 15 minutes to gain all three points.
We?ve met Halifax in ten Conference campaigns. Since the Shaymen?s return to the Conference in the 2002/03 season we?ve drawn twice and lost three times at the Shay, so it?s not a favourite ground for the Cards. In the 2004/05 season we travelled there for the final fixture of the campaign. We had a theoretical chance of making the play-offs but it seemed clear that the team didn?t really believe it as they went down tamely 3-1, with Justin Richards scoring a late consolation goal. The following season, we lost away 1-0 and drew 2-2 at home: at Kingfield a Karl Murray free-kick gave us a half-time lead but Lewis Killeen produced a superb, swerving 25 yard volley to even things up. Steve Ferguson?s header restored the lead before, with ten minutes to go, Adam Quinn headed the second equaliser. Last season we lost 3-0 away to goals by Gus Uhlenbeek, Nathan Joynes and Danny Forrest. It was another 2-2 draw at home in relegation-haunted March, Karl Murray equalising Felix Bastians? lead before Ollie Berquez?s mis-hit shot put the Cards in front, only for Tom Hutchinson to glance a throw-in into his own net at the last gasp.
The Shay Stadium
Telephone: 01422 341222
by coach ? why not take it easy and go on the Supporters? Club coach? It leaves Kingfield at 1pm and the cost is ?23 for members and ?29 for non-members. Ring the Club Shop (01483 772470) to book a place.
by car - M25 ? M40 (north) ? M42 (at Coventry) ? M6 ? M62 northwest (near Warrington). Exit the M62 at junction 24 and follow the signs for 'Eureka' (A629 to Halifax). Continue past Elland and keep going, following signs for Halifax town centre. You can't miss the ground, as the floodlights are clearly visible on the right hand side. The ground is on the left, approximately 500 yards before reaching 'Eureka'.
M25 ? M1 (Junction 42) ? M62. Exit the M62 at junction 26 and take the A58 towards Halifax. At the roundabout with the A629 turn left onto the A629 towards the town centre. Take the second exit at the roundabout just outside the town centre into Broad Street and follow the signs for Huddersfield (A629) into Skircoat Road. The ground is about half a mile outside the town centre on the left.
The Shay is signposted from all major routes into the town. Parking is available in the Halifax Plc Multi-Storey Car Park at the rear of the North Stand.
by train ? only an option from London if you?re prepared to stay overnight.
OTHER THINGS YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW
? away fans ? are housed in the covered North Stand
? admission prices ? adults ?15, concessions (12-16 and over 65) ?8 and U11s ?5
? food/drink ? the ground is about ten minutes from the town centre, so there are plenty of places to eat and drink in the vicinity: the Shay Stadium website proudly boasts that Halifax is reckoned to have more pubs/clubs per head of population than anywhere else in Britain! The Shay Hotel is nearest to the North Stand. The Three Pigeons and the Pump Room are only a few minutes from the ground
? colours ? the Shaymen?s home kit is blue with red and white.
Come on, you Cards!