By Jeff Brazier
With our focus drawn to the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy and the postponement of numerous Premier League games at the weekend, we have been almost too distracted to notice a Vanarama talking point that deserves some recognition. Congratulations to Pete Wild and Halifax for drawing level on points at the top of the 5th tier!
They might have an inferior goal difference to Chesterfield and played one more game but to equal their 39 points and have a PPG return of a fraction over 2 for the season so far is a remarkable return for the side that narrowly missed out on the play-offs last year due to that heart-breaking defeat on the last day of the season, coincidentally to the side they now have in their sights at the top of the National League.
Halifax are on a run of 3 consecutive wins and over the last 10, with a return of 22 from a possible 30, have been a point better than any other team in the league. They also have an enviable record against the other clubs looking most likely to compete for the title. Wins against Stockport, Notts County and Dagenham stand out, with tough draws on the road against Boreham Wood and Bromley.
Only Maidenhead, Yeovil, Solihull and Wrexham have got the better of Halifax in the league this year. A Paul Mullin last minute winner cost them a point at the Racecourse and is the difference between them reaching 40 points already. All teams will concede a late goal at some stage of the campaign, but I also noticed it was a Kane Ferdinand 90th minute winner for Maidenhead in their opening match too.
I’ve seen Halifax in person once this season when they travelled to Huish Park and were undone by a Joe Quigley penalty in a 1-0 defeat to Yeovil. To keep up with the theme of last-minute drama, Pete Wild was sent off in that game when frustrations boiled over in the final moments.
Speaking of the man that has overseen such a healthy phase for the club since taking the role ahead of the 2019-2020 season, this kind of sustained involvement at the top end of the league will make him of interest to EFL clubs. He was already linked to Hartlepool this season and you Halifax fans would be forgiven for being slightly nervous about the Oldham job still remaining vacant after Keith Curle was sacked weeks ago.
The goals are coming from 3 main sources. Billy Waters has got 11 since his switch from Torquay and he has 2 more than Armani Little has managed for his old side. Waters strike partner Jordan Slew has 7 and Matt Warburton 4. Jack Vale got his first league goal since joining from Blackburn in their 2-0 win against King’s Lynn last time out. I also hear Kian Spence is developing into a great prospect in the Halifax midfield.
Halifax beat Grimsby in the 2016 FA Trophy final and tonight they face Bradford Park Avenue who are 19th in the National League North. But for an emphatic 7-4 victory over Maidenhead in the 1st round of the FA Cup, their form in knockout format hasn’t matched their performances in the league, losing to Kidderminster in the game that followed.
The Shaymen’s Christmas schedule is arguably the toughest, facing an out-of-form Grimsby at home on Boxing Day before facing leaders Chesterfield away, including an old face they know well in Jeff King just 2 days later.
A tough sequence is then rounded off with a trip to Blundell Park on the 3rd of January which will be shown live on BT Sport and I’ll have the pleasure of attending that one.