FOOT­BALL An­other stun­ning sea­son for Town

Halifax Courier - - Athletics - By Dave Fletcher

GO on then - who saw that com­ing?

There was plenty of op­ti­mism for life in the Evo Stik Premier Divi­sion and no lit­tle ex­pec­ta­tion on the play­ers for an­other pro­mo­tion chal­lenge fol­low­ing the Shay­men’s el­e­va­tion from One North.

But to win the a sec­ond suc­ces­sive ti­tle at such a can­ter must have been be­yond ev­ery­one’s wildest dreams.

At the end of 42 matches, Neil Aspin’s Town side were 19 points clear of the field hav­ing wrapped things up with an im­pres­sive five matches to spare.

And the rea­son is sim­ple - they were the best side, with the best play­ers and the best man­ager.

Of course it was not all plain sail­ing at the start of the cam­paign with just nine points from the open­ing six games, which in­cluded a de­feat at Chase­town.

But per­haps that was some­thing from which the play­ers learned be­cause af­ter that they sim­ply steam­rollered their way past the op­po­si­tion.

The wagon started rolling in early Septem­ber with a 1-1 draw at home to North­wich who at the time they ar­rived at the Shay were the early pace­set­ters.

Town might have only picked up a point, but they were so clearly the bet­ter side that the per­for­mance gave the whole squad mas­sive be­lief.

Whitby were dis­patched in the FA Cup four days later and they re­turned to the Shay seven days af­ter to be­come the first of 10 suc­ces­sive Town vic­tims as the Shay­men went on a run that took them to the top of the ta­ble.

They reached the sum­mit mid­way through the win­ning se­quence, which started with five goal thrash­ings of Whitby and Stocks­bridge, and never re­lin­quished top spot again.

They en­joyed a run of six suc­ces­sive clean sheets, four in the league, one in the FA Cup and one in the FA Tro­phy be­fore the run ended with a 2-0 de­feat at home to North Fer­riby on Novem­ber 20.

It was a shock to the sys­tem be­cause not only did the Hum­ber­siders win but, prompted by for­mer Shay duo Paul Hars­ley and Rus­sell Fry in mid­field, they made Town look or­di­nary.

There was no im­me­di­ate chance to get the de­feat out of the sys­tem ei­ther, with the bad weather forc­ing a three-week lay off.

The match af­ter the Fer­riby de­feat was against FC United of Manch­ester at Gigg Lane, just days af­ter the fans’ club had knocked Brighton out of the FA Cup.

But for­mer United man Si­mon Garner, pos­si­bly the bonus of the sea­son with a string of im­pres­sive dis­plays, scored the only goal of the game and the Shay­men were up and run­ning again.

Well, that’s what they thought - the weather had other ideas.

The next game was the New Year’s Day clash with United at the Shay when a league record 4,023 crammed into the Shay to see Town in­flict a 4-1 de­feat on their ri­vals with Lee Gre­gory, on his sec­ond Town de­but af­ter re­turn­ing to the club on a per­ma­nent ba­sis from Mans­field, among the scor­ers.

So too was Jamie Vardy whose value to the side was be­com­ing im­mea­sur­able.

The key to many of Town’s suc­cesses was to get the ball

Ju­bi­lant scenes: Town fans cel­e­brate a sec­ond suc­ces­sive pro­mo­tion

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