The anticipation of the forthcoming season is almost over, and with it brings a sense of optimism and excitement that only the opening day of the season can conjure.
FC Halifax town begin the season on the back of a torrid end of the 2014/15 season, which saw The Shaymen end the season with a run of only 1 victory in 10 which ultimately saw Town slip down the table and see them finish 9th place despite the season offering so much post Christmas.
It has been a summer of transition at The Shay which has seen the likes of Lois Maynard, Marc Roberts, Matty Pearson, Paul Marshall, Adam Smith, among other players, depart the Shay. However this was to be expected on the back of last season’s dismal ending.
Despite this disappointment, there is an air of cautious optimism among Town fans, due to the shrewd acquisitions of several big name signings, including Andy Bishop, Hamza Bencherif and Elliott Whitehouse. On top of this, there is also excitement caused by the signings of the relatively unknown quantities Sam Walker, Connor Hughes and MacDonald from the lower echelons of the British football pyramid. These names all exert a feeling of high excitement due to their unknown qualities and potential.
These signings once again highlight the pragmatic side of Neil Aspin which we have seen in previous seasons, most notably of which in our first season back in the National Conference, with the signings of Lois Maynard and Marc Roberts who were also relatively unknown and yet have left Town to supposedly bigger ventures, at Tranmere and Barnsley, respectively. So if these previous signings are an indication of whats to come, then Town fans can be excused for their optimism. This pragmatism is important in helping Town compete with the big budgets of Tranmere, Eastleigh and Grimsby.
My prediction for the upcoming season: I personally think that this season will be a season of transition, and as such I am not expecting much in terms of a play off push. However a top half finish would be a reasonable expectation. We have too much quality, with the likes of Kingsley James and Elliott Whitehouse to suggest we will be in a relegation scrap. This season will be a season of consolidation, and to expect challenging the likes of Eastleigh and Forest Green, not even mentioning Tranmere or Cheltenham, would be too expectant.
My biggest concern: Goals. Plain and simple. Our main problem last season was the lack of service our strikers received, one of the reasons why Scott Boden was limited to just 11 goals last campaign, which has still seen him make a move up in division, to League 2’s Newport County, which highlights the undoubted ability he possesses, he was just unable to show it in a Town shirt. However this problem may have been solved with the signings of Sam Walker, Connor Hughes and MacDonald, all playmakers who are making the step up. Are they good enough? Only time will tell, but from what has been shown in the friendlies, these three players all look ready to make the step up, with a flurry of impressive performances, most notably of which was in the 5-0 victory against Brighouse which saw Walker score a penalty as well as MacDonald making two assists. The signing of Jordan Burrow, who scored 10 in 39 last season at Lincoln, could potentially be the replacement of Scott Boden, and the experience of the veteran 32 year old striker Andy Bishop could prove key to preventing Halifax experiencing another win drough which we endured last season.
Biggest place for optimism: Aspin’s signings. Before the first signing was made I was very concerned with the upcoming season, and didn’t know what to expect, but a sea of new faces, all announced within the space of three weeks has settled them nerves. On top of this, the surprise resurgence of front man Dan Hattersley will no doubt be proving a lot of people, myself included wrong, with three goals so far in pre season, including a spectacular lob shot from the corner of the box against BPA.
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