BOSS Phil Sharpe has challenged his side to derail runaway train FC Halifax when Neil Aspin and his title favourites roll into town on Monday night (7.45pm ko).
The Harrogate Railway boss has been given the unenviable task of stopping the Shaymen who enter the contest with an unbeaten league record under their belts.
Ex-Town chief Aspin has also guided his side into the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round against Dean Saunders’ Wrexham after beating Blue Square North leaders Droylsden along the way.
However Rail’ will know Station View hasn’t been Aspin’s happiest hunting ground in the past.
In 2007 he was famously beaten 1-0 by Vinnie Brockie’s Railway in the FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round.
Town entered that game unbeaten before a severe slump in form saw them slide off the pace in their quest for promotion.
Sharpe will be hoping Aspin’s Station View hoodoo can rear its head again and cap a superb weekend.
Tomorrow Rail’ kick off proceedings at Shepshed Dynamo for the first qualifying round of the FA Trophy, which sees some welcome prize money up for grabs (3pm ko).
“It’s going to be an extremely hard weekend,” said Sharpe.
“Starting with Shepshed, it’s a long trip for us but it’s a game we have targeted, we can get something out of it.
“Halifax will be exceptionally tough. They’re flying at the moment, have a big squad of players and are on a big winning run.
“We did the double over them last year with different management staff but we know they’re completely different with a different squad of players and a manager who has done well.
“It’s a shame it’s on a Monday. It would have been better to have played them on a Bank Holiday, over Christmas or even Easter for the fans but we’re expecting a lot to travel.
“It’s sure to be a good atmosphere, there’s a few ex-Railway lads in their team which will make it more interesting.
“On a personal note I had three good years with Halifax. It’s a club that means a lot to me but we’ll be doing everything to win we just need to address one or two problems with our goalscoring first.”
Their showdown is likely to attract a bumper crowd which could break the 500 mark. It will also whet the appetite of Town and Rail’ fans with Aspin’s squad containing some familiar faces.
Station View supporters will be looking forward to the return of former defensive stalwart James Riley, Danny Lowe and Richard “Scoobie” Marshall who has quickly become a fans’ favourite at the Shay banging in goals left, right and centre.
Ex-Town players James Dean, Jonathan Hedge, Aaron Hardy and Nicky Gray have all made contributions to Halifax’s fine start, with Jamie Smith also on the books but out injured with a back problem.
Meanwhile in some interesting team news before the game Sharpe has revealed FC Halifax have put seven days in for current Rail’ defender Luke Richardson.
He believes there could be a chance Richardson could feature for the West Yorkshire side if his transfer goes through in time.
It’s been a intense week for Rail’ who kicked off their hard schedule with a home clash against league leaders Colwyn Bay on Saturday.
Despite creating some clear cut chances in the opening stages, Bay took the lead on 21 minutes when James Kelley fired into the net from close range following a corner.
The Welshmen increased their lead before the break thanks to Steve Aspinall who found enough space to shoot past ‘keeper James Mann.
Rail’ stalwart Ryan Haigh was replaced by on-loan Harrogate Town man Zeph Thomas but this failed to revitalise them and soon they were 3-0 down.
Colwyn defender Tim Brandeth was in the right place to see his deflected shot beat Mann following a long throw.
Rail’ did pull one back before the end through Dan Husband but it proved a scant consolation despite throwing caution to the wind in the final few minutes.
“It was frustrating because we’re not putting our chances away,” added Sharpe.
“Even when we were 3-1 down we still had a few chances at the end of the game which we missed, that’s something we really need to look at.
“If it keeps happening then we’ll have to change the team around and do something about it.”
Rail’s unlucky streak continued on Tuesday night when they were dumped out of the UniBond League Presidents Cup after a 3-2 defeat away at Garforth Town.
In another eventful game Sharpe’s side went 1-0 down with Liam Ormsby finding the net after two minutes. Duncan Williams made it 2-0 on 58 minutes but a late fight by Rail’ looked to have rescued the tie.
First Phil Mitchell reduced the deficit on 86 minutes then Thomas scored his first Rail’ goal on 90 minutes. However with the game trickling out to extra-time Christopher Jones broke the away side’s hearts with the winner just moments later.
UniBond First Division North
Colwyn Bay 12 29
FC Halifax Town 9 25
Lancaster City 10 24
Curzon Ashton 12 23
Trafford 12 18
Bamber Bridge 8 17
Leigh Genesis 11 16
Wakefield FC 10 16
Skelmersdale United 11 16
AFC Fylde 10 14
Garforth Town 13 13
Mossley 12 13
Radcliffe Borough 8 13
Warrington Town 9 12
Chorley 9 11
Prescot Cables 12 11
Clitheroe 9 7
Woodley Sports 10 7
Harrogate Railway 9 5
Ossett Albion 10 5
Rossendale United 9 5
Salford City 9 4