By Rhys Walker

Since his appointment in August 2019, Pete Wild has guided FC Halifax Town to 18 wins, and despite the frustrating inconsistencies which have punctuated his tenure in West Yorkshire, fans have generally been pleased with progress under the former Oldham caretaker manager. However, the 35-year old is slowly beginning to feel the pressure following an underwhelming start to the 2020-21 campaign.

With five games played, the Shaymen can boast the fourth-best defence in the division, however, they’ve struggled in the final third, and they’ve netted just twice since the opening weekend of the season. Only four sides, including newcomers Weymouth and Altrincham, have scored fewer goals than Wild’s men so far, and he must find a way to improve his side’s productivity in that area.

Having competed in the play-offs this summer, Halifax supporters could be forgiven for feeling quietly confident of another relatively successful season. However, as of October 26th, they have drifted to 40/1 in the outright betting market, and although it is still very early days, their inability to pick up maximum points could prove costly. On current evidence, punters are unlikely to be queuing up to back them for a tilt at the title, however, those who bet on football regularly and enjoy dabbling in goals-based markets will undoubtedly be keen to back low-scoring games at The Shay over the coming weeks. There has been an average of just 1.40 goals per game so far, and they’ve managed to keep three clean sheets in their opening five fixtures.

However, perhaps more worryingly, they’ve now failed to score in two of their last three outings, and also drew a blank against South Shields in the FA Cup on October 24th. Wild didn’t hold back following the final whistle, calling his side ‘weak’ and ‘too soft’, and he’ll be hoping that his uncharacteristic outburst will have a positive effect on his players’ performances.

Supporters have accused their side of being far too casual in possession, with sideways passes tending to take the sting out of the game. Wild prefers to deploy two strikers with a number ten tucked in behind, but this has tended to hinder creativity, and their lack of width has been exposed on a number of occasions. As a result, Halifax have been far too narrow, and often far too ponderous and predictable going forward.

All four of the club’s league goals have come from midfield with Jeff King, Jack Earing and the experienced Luke Summerfield all having found the net so far. Wild does have several strikers in the squad, although very few of them look capable of getting into double figures this season. Jamie Allen is yet to get off the mark this campaign, whilst Gold Omotayo did very little in his recent FA Cup appearance to stake a claim for a regular spot. Matty Stenson, who was signed this summer, has a relatively modest record of just two goals in 24 National League appearances, although some fans would like to see the former Solihull Moors forward given the chance to show what he can do at this level upon his return to full fitness.

If the club are to start climbing the table this season, Wild must show some flexibility and re-think the current system. He needs to find a way to get his side moving forward with far more purpose, and if he can achieve this, it could potentially kick-start their campaign. With barren strikers and a lack of creativity, the Halifax boss has plenty of issues to address over the coming weeks, and in order to move the club into the top half of the National League table, he must urgently find a way of unlocking his side’s attacking potential.

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