1} There is an evident togetherness at Halifax
When aiming for promotion, togetherness is of the upmost importance and often is evident in little things and small gestures as opposed to large episodes of dramatic community. One of these moments was when at the final whistle, Pete Wild went up to the main terrace and applauded the fans as well as punching the air and showing his appreciation for their support. This demonstrated that between the manager and the fans, there is trust and faith in the decisions he makes and, in the vision, outlined for the club and the team.
Furthermore, as I made my exit out of the ground, I sensed and observed a real feeling of happiness about the club and where it was, unsurprising given their position. Also, it reinforced football’s power to unite and please people and be a source of escapism.
2} Without having a superstar, Halifax work as a team
One of the peculiarities about Halifax’s success so far this season is that they have done it without a Kabongo Tshimanga, Paul Mullin, Antoni Sarcevic type player, instead, it has been the tight knit nature of the team and the loyalty of Pete Wild that has contributed to it. This does not diminish or disregard the achievements of other teams, instead, serves to appreciate the work done at a Shay at a smaller team that have faced untold hardship.
The community nature of the Halifax team was evident on Saturday from their manful defending amidst Barnet pressure to their commitment to tackles and unity when celebrating Niall Maher’s 41st minute goal that sufficed as the only goal for the win. The team ethic has and will continue to be very important to the club as the season continues.
3} The Shaymen’s usage of the long ball was effective
Both Halifax and Barnet used the long ball on Saturday but with differing levels of success in that Barnet’s employing of it was rather aimless and futile whereas Halifax’s usage of it appeared more methodical and planned, partly because they started with a striker. This meant that they had a focal point in attack at which to aim their long balls and then their superior attackers could collect the long ball and then construct an attack from there.
This was another demonstration the gulf between the top teams and the other teams in the National League because teams like Halifax are smarter and wiser when they have the ball whereas the rest like Barnet are lacking in the requisite quality and are more hopeful.
4} Halifax have a stoic defence
Another difference between the two teams was the difference in the quality of defending, Halifax’s was stoic and united whereas Barnet’s was haphazard and vulnerable. This was most evident in the way they dealt with Barnet’s pressure towards the end of the second half from last-minute blocks to positional awareness and the snuffing out of any threat. This was helped by authoritative goalkeeping from Halifax’s goalkeeper, Sam Johnson that ensured his defenders had confidence compared to Ashton Oxborough’s which was not very authoritative. Furthermore, the fact that they held on with ten men against Notts County at Meadow Lane meant that they were in imperious form when it came to defending and against a lower-quality attack, were able to implement their plans relatively easy.
The clean sheet earned on Saturday was one of many this season so this comes naturally for the Shaymen, a great sign for the run in that will certainly test their defence, more than Barnet did.
5} The game was affected by the pitch
Another immediately noticeable feature of the game was the questionable nature of the pitch, affected by the fact that Halifax’s Rugby League also play on it. This hindered the game and both sides’ style of play, but Halifax adapted to it with more efficiency. Whilst they couldn’t always play a passing style of football, they used the second ball and were more direct. Their set pieces were also better, their goal came from a corner. But it meant that the usage of Rugby League was called into question by those at the game.
However, it exhibited the gulf that is existent in the National League and the necessity that is starting a striker.
Football is meant to feel good. It certainly does at the Shay.