05:30PM, Friday 21 January 2022
The Halifax Courier’s Tom Scargill gives the low down on Maidenhead United’s high-flying opponents ahead of what promises to be a crucial clash at both ends of the table.
How have Halifax been doing this season?
They've been absolutely fantastic so far. They're averaging around two points a game, which is some going. Some of their football has been great to watch and they've recorded some outstanding results, especially wins over Notts County, Stockport and Grimsby. Their budget might be lower than those teams around them but they make up for that with hard work, organisation and resilience.
Why have they done so well?
I think it's a combination of players from last season taking their performance levels up a level this season, such as midfielders Kian Spence and Kieran Green and defenders Niall Maher, Tom Bradbury and Jack Senior, and their summer signings adding quality and fitting in seamlessly to the style of play. They have more strength in depth this season too, which has meant that when players have picked up injuries, they've been able to be replaced by someone who has done just as well, if not better.
Do you think they can get promoted?
They've certainly got a chance and there is a lot of excitement among the supporters, who feel their club hasn't had a chance like this in years to get back into the Football League. There is a real feel-good factor at the club with the player and fans feeding off each other. Obviously injuries to key players could prove disruptive, as for any club in this league, and if they can hopefully add two or three new signings to bolster the squad that should help. If they don't finish top, they'll take some stopping in the play-offs as there is a real hunger in the squad to achieve something special this season, and a belief among the fans they can do it.
Who have been their stand out players so far this season?
Top-scorer Billy Waters started the season on fire, pretty much scoring in every game, but his form has tailed off in the last few games, although he still contributes hugely to the side with his work rate and movement. Number 10 Matty Warburton has been in great form, scoring 5 in his last 6 league games and winning National League player of the month for December, and together, they link up very well in attack. The midfield duo of Spence and Green have also been outstanding this season, often dominating the middle third with energy, commitment and driving runs.
Who will be the dangermen for Maidenhead to watch out for on Saturday?
Warburton is the obvious one, being in such great form, while Waters will be keen to get back to finding the net after a bit of a personal goal drought of late. Jordan Slew has had a very good goalscoring season so far and is capable of finding the net from range.
What can Maidenhead expect to come up against on Saturday, what is Halifax's style of play?
Very fluid, controlled and purposeful football, when they're at their best. They are capable of nicking the ball high up the pitch and breaking effectively, moving the ball quickly and cutting through teams. They will work hard off the ball, stay disciplined at the back and play out from the defence. Expect plenty of movement and link-up play between Warburton and Waters, while Slew can be a threat cutting in off the left flank on his right foot.
Attacking midfielder Harvey Gilmour is out with an abductor injury, but forwards Matty Stenson and Gerry McDonagh are pushing for a place in the squad after recovering from injury, with Stenson the more likely to feature.
Likely line-up and formation?
4-2-3-1 - Johnson; Benn, Maher, Bradbury, Warren; Green, Spence; Allen, Warburton, Slew; Waters. Subs: Summerfield, Woods, Senior, Debrah, Stenson.
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