FC Halifax Town will play their final home league fixture of the season against Curzon Ashton this Saturday, April 22 (3pm), knowing that a win would secure further Shay action in the play-offs. That ‘simple’ equation is based on Darlington’s pending appeal to be allowed to compete in the play-offs failing, in which case, assuming they had finished in the top five, the sixth placed team would take their place.
Given their vastly superior goal difference over seventh-placed Stockport County, a solitary point is likely to be enough for Town, but manager Billy Heath will hope his team can ease into the play-offs in red-hot form. Even if Darlington’s appeal – which is expected to be heard before the end of the season – is successful, Town can still have secured a spot in the play-offs if they win on Saturday and Chorley or Darlington lose, or Salford City fail to win.
The Shaymen currently sit third, thanks to a convincing victory at Harrogate Town on Easter Monday where they won 3-0. Dion Charles opened the scoring before Matty Kosylo, back for his first start after injury, scored a brace to leave more than 700 travelling fans delighted and Heath describing his side’s performance as ‘exceptional’.
Scott McManus made his long-awaited return for Halifax on Monday, coming on as a second half substitute for David Lynch. McManus hadn’t played for almost 11 months prior, as he was injured the same day he scored the FA Trophy winning goal at Wembley Stadium. Though he may once again be a part of the squad, he is unlikely to start on Saturday due to a lack of match fitness and Josh Wilde’s consistent performances at left-back.
Town have several options to call upon, including Monday’s substitutes Tom Denton and Adam Morgan, if Heath chooses to bolster his attack for the visit of the league’s thirteenth-placed side. Curzon Ashton have conceded the sixth-most goals of all teams in the league, having allowed 67 to Town’s 43. The Shaymen should not take their opponents lightly however, as they have registered an impressive 28 away points, seven more than at home. Their last outing was however a 1-0 defeat at Salford on Monday, and on Friday they lost 3-2 to bottom-placed Altrincham.
The previous encounter between the two sides was one to forget for Halifax, as ‘The Nash’ ran out 4-2 winners at the Tameside Stadium back in November. Morgan scored a brace for Curzon that day, before moving to the Shay in December. Cliff Moyo and an own goal were to thank for the Shaymen’s marks on the scoresheet, but Curzon Ashton ran out deserved winners despite having three players – Alex Brown, Niall Cummins and Jamie Stott – sent off.
Halifax have lost just one of their last seven matches, 1-0 to AFC Fylde on Good Friday, and have picked up 16 points on that run. It is this form which has given the Shaymen a fantastic chance of play-off football, and that therefore keeps them on track for their goal: promotion.
Recent form (league matches, most recent first):
FC Halifax Town WLWDWW
Curzon Ashton LLDDLW
Referee: Kevin Mulraine
Assistants: Scott Taylor, Joseph Goodwin