It may have ended nil-nil but Harrogate Town fans got their first look at this season’s team on Saturday, for a friendly against Barnsley U-21s.
A large portion of last year’s squad has waved farewell to the CNG Stadium, crowd favourite Chib Chilaka leaving for Bradford Park Avenue alongside Lee Elam, Luke Dean and Danny Forrest.
Jonny Allan and keeper Jose da Veiga have also departed.
The frame of the team still remains: goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray, right back Dwayne Samuels, left back Dave Merris, midfielder Adam Bolder and defender Shane Killock have all been retained, with Michael Woods signing on to lead the strikeforce. Skipper Alan White missed out through injury.
Joining from Conference side Alfreton are defender Leigh Franks, Ashley Worsfold and huge midfielder Anton Browne.
Winger Craig Nelthorpe signed from Gainsborough while striker Tommy Wright joins from Telford.
In searing heat, and considering it was the team’s first ever time together, Town made a confident start on a vastly improved CNG pitch.
Woods showed pace to break clear of Antonie Boland to unleash a 20-yarder which drifted wide after three minutes.
MacGillivray then demonstrated his catlike reactions to deny a powerful centre from Wade Joyce.
Worsfold stormed down the left wing and picked out Bolder in the box, the midfielder just failing to get on the end of it.
Bolder made amends in the 35th minute with a stunning volley on the turn which sailed past the far post.
Nelthorpe battled hard to jink past right back Josh Lacey, delivering a looping cross into the box which Wright attempted to head home, but went out for a corner.
Merris’s accurate ball in handed Wright another attempt but his header ballooned the side netting.
It became something of a ponderous first stanza, understandably so in such temperatures.
Half time came with the score still at nil-nil and Weaver rang numerous changes for the second 45.
Former Hollyoaks’ cast member Chris Hall, impressive ex-Doncaster Rovers youngster Sam Jones and Alex Metcalfe all joined the fray.
With the sun disappearing behind a cloud, the tempo increased.
Metcalfe was a livewire upfront, pulling clear of Jake Scott to hit the post from six yards out.
Worsfold also went close, hitting ‘keeper Christian Dibble’s shoulder to win a corner.
He then set up Jones for a great attempt which floated over the bar.
Dan Clayton, Josh Garbutt and Paul Beesley were all brought on, but Barnsley’s striker Brad Abbott showed the visitors weren’t here simply to make up numbers, shuddering the cross bar with a stunning 20-yard drive.
Craig MacGillivray was swapped for Peter Cook, and the new ‘keeper had to quickly get into his stride as Barnsley upped the pressure.
Five minutes left, a second water break later, and there was still no goal.
Barnsley were pushing hard through Abbott and Tunnecliffe but nil-nil at the final whsitle was a fair result on such a hot day.
Weaver was happy with the performance of his new recruits.
“There were a lot of positives, we knocked it about very well, changed the system afer half an hour and got on the ball more,” he said.
“We prevented them from a lot of their build-up play. They’re a fulltime side with a lot of youngsters and it’s been challenging, but I want to give us a lot of challenges before the start of the season.
“But I think we hit the ground running.
“They coped a lot better than I would in the heat. In the first 15 minutes it was hot, and it was tricky but I’m proud of their efforts.
“Sam Jones, Alex Metcalfe, they made a good impression and it puts the first team under pressure.
“We look sharp already, and I didn’t think wed’ be as sharp as we looked today.”
Harrogate Town: Craig MacGillivray, Dwayne Samuels, Dave Merris, Adam Bolder, Leigh Franks, Shane Killock, Ashley Worsfold, Anton Browne, Tommy Wright, Michael Woods, Craig Nelthorpe; Subs Dan Clayton, Chris Hall, Paul Beesley, Josh Garbutt, Alex Metcalfe, Sam Jones, Peter Cook
Barnsley: Christian Dibble, Josh Lacey, George Smith, Jake Scott, Chris Salt, Antonie Boland, Wade Joyce, McCauley Shillito, Rhys Oates, Brad Abbott, Dennis Knight; Subs Darren McKnight, Elliot Chadderton, Jordan Tunnecliffe, Harrison Biggins, Callum Pillcington, Lewis Clarkson, Frico Sousa.