Runaway leaders Halifax to bring a little extra

Ged Dalton
Ged Dalton

WHITBY Town fans face being outnumbered in their own ground tomorrow when runaway league leaders FC Halifax Town rock up on Saturday (26 Feb), writes Andrew Snaith.

The Shaymen, managed by former Port Vale full-back and Harrogate Town boss Neil Aspin, have lost just three times all season and lead the Evo-Stik Premier by 13 points.

Formed last year when the old Halifax Town club went bust, they immediately clinched the First Division North championship, finishing with over 100 points.

They have a goal difference of +57 with strike duo James Dean (16 goals) and ex-Stocksbridge marksman Jamie Vardy (14) leading the way.

They arrive on the back of nine games unbeaten since the turn of the year and beat the Blues 5-1 in September, after defeating what were Harry Dunn’s men 2-0 in the FA Cup, seven days earlier.

It’s the first time any club from Halifax has visited the Turnbull Ground, with the most famous meeting coming in 1983 when the then-Football League Halifax Town threw away a 2-0 lead to crash out of the FA Cup 3-2 at the Shay.

Derek Hampton, Ronnie Sills and Phil Linacre wrote themselves into the history books, with the Seasiders going on to lose out 1-0 at Wigan Athletic in the second round.

It seems fitting this is the game in which 40-year-old Dave Campbell can overtake Hampton’s record of 442 outings for the Blues.

The veteran keeper is still going strong in his third spell at the club and would become the second-top appearance-maker for Whitby Town if selected, behind Paul Pitman (484).

Campbell, who has Northern League, Northern Premier First Division and FA Vase winners medals with the Blues, joked: “I never thought I’d make it this far to be honest. I’ll see how long I can crack on for until I collapse.”

Blues’ manager Tommy Cassidy, who played for Newcastle United and Northern Ireland and managed Apoel Nicosia in the European Cup, described Town’s biggest defeat for 23 years on Tuesday as “one of my most disappointing moments in football”.

He added: “It was a mess from beginning to end.

“Our defending was abysmal.

“It was terrible – individual mistakes all over the pitch.”

Cassidy says he is targeting one or two players, including an attacking midfield player, who he wants to have in the side for Saturday. He knows the Blues need a centre forward but said clubs are reluctant to let good strikers go during the season.

On opponents Halifax, he admitted: “They could play one, maybe two levels above, they’ll win the league easily.”

Skipper Tony Hackworth and forward Ged Dalton are both doubtful with ankle ligament and hamstring injuries respectively.

Meanwhile, striker Ash Davis missed Tuesday with a groin strain and is 50/50, along with fellow forward Andy Campbell, who is recovering well from a broken nose. Dave McTiernan is suspended.

Admission at the Turnbull Ground remains just £7.50 adults, £4.50 concessions and £2 under 18s.

The Blues visit second-bottom Ossett Town on Tuesday (1 Mar) night, with a supporters’ coach leaving the Turnbull Ground at 4.30pm. Fans wanting to travel should book in advance with chairman Graham Manser.