View From the Press Box: FC Halifax Town boss Pete Wild wide of the mark with assessment of Harrogate Town clash

Harrogate Advertiser sports editor Rhys Howell has his say on the latest goings-on at Harrogate Town.

Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 6:04 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th November 2019, 9:20 pm
FC Halifax Town manager Pete Wild. Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald

Another cliche to kick-off another column, but, football is of course a game of opinion.

Opposing sides – both supporters and the clubs themselves – often see things quite differently when they reflect post-match on what has gone before.

Take Tuesday night’s Yorkshire derby clash between Harrogate Town and FC Halifax Town as an example.

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I think that both teams could reasonably claim that they deserved to win the game.

Halifax twice took the lead away from home and were 2-1 up with the contest well into stoppage-time.

They started much the better of the sides, and even when Harrogate were in the ascendancy in the second period, the Shaymen still managed to get their noses back in front.

Having spoken to both Simon Weaver and George Thomson after full-time, I know that Town also feel that they should have had all three points.

They looked sluggish from the off, but got better as the first period went on then came out of the blocks quickly after the interval.

They forced the West Yorkshiremen deeper and deeper, deservedly got back on terms then went on to take charge.

The visitors did begin to see a little bit more of the ball, however I think it’s fair to say that their second goal came somewhat against the run of play.

When you weigh it up from an impartial point of view, I think that you can see both sides of the argument and would concede that, in the end, a draw was probably a pretty fair result.

It’s almost 12 of one and half a dozen of the other. Hence, my conclusion that a draw was about right.

Weaver thought his team had the better of it, but conceded that his players can’t expect to score three goals [as they have done in both of their previous outings] in order to prevail.

His oppositite number, Pete Wild, may well have been watching a different game.

“I thought we were by far the better team,” he reflected.

“I thought they were rattled and they couldn’t deal with us.”

Wild is of course entitled to his opinion, and to use his post-match dealings with the media to try and lift his own players after they saw two points cruelly snatched away in unfortunate circumstances in added-time.

I do find his comments rather difficult to digest, however.

“Better team?” I’m not sure, maybe at a push. But, “by far the better team”? Absolutely no chance.

Halifax did cause Town a number of problems. There were moments when they looked a real threat, but the same can be said of periods when the home team were attacking.

“They couldn’t deal with us” implies that Wild thinks his team battered their hosts. They didn’t.

I think the term “rattled” is wide of the mark, too. Town weren’t so rattled that they couldn’t twice score equalising goals and dominate a big chunk of the second half.

It’s worth remembering that Halifax were time-wasting before half-time and, on a couple of occasions in the first period they resorted to booting the ball from inside their own penalty area to the other end of the field, despite all of their players being camped in their own half.

There’s nothing wrong with clearing your lines to relieve the pressure.

Nothing wrong with that at all, but it’s usually the kind of thing you see in the closing stages of a game when a team is clinging on for dear life. Or when a side is really under the cosh.

If your players are doing this, particularly in the first half of a game, it all looks a bit desperate and I really don’t think that you as a manager can come out afterwards and say that the other team “couldn’t live with” you and that they were “rattled”.

Halifax looked the better side at the start of the contest because they played with real intensity and pressed the ball quickly, affording Harrogate no time to pass it.

Around about the 35/40-minute mark they then dropped off, presumably because they couldn’t sustain that level of work-rate off the ball.

From that point onwards, Town were more or less in the ascendancy.

As I said at the start of this piece, football is a game of opinion, but if you’re going to make bold statements then there has to be some substance behind what you say.

If not, then I think that, regardless of your intentions, you're unlikely to come across very well.

Just my opinion.