Harrogate Town v FC United of Manchester preview: Weaver keen to rid pain of 'punch in face' defeat

Harrogate Town's Joe Colbeck turns on the ball during the 4-3 defeat at FC United  of Manchester (Photo: Craig Hurle)
Harrogate Town's Joe Colbeck turns on the ball during the 4-3 defeat at FC United of Manchester (Photo: Craig Hurle)

Harrogate Town v FC United of Manchester, CNG Stadium - 3pm, Saturday, February 20.

The pain of successive horror defeats against FC United of Manchester will be at the forefront of Simon Weaver's Harrogate Town team talk ahead of the Glazer rebels trip to the CNG

Harrogate Town are 14 places above FC UNited of Manchester

Harrogate Town are 14 places above FC UNited of Manchester

FC United hammered Town 4-0 in the FA Trophy when in the league below last season and Weaver’s men gave up a three-goal lead in Manchester last month to fall to a shock 4-3 defeat.

However, Town have picked up three straight wins since that second half collapse and have propelled themselves into second position in the National League North table.

On the other hand, FC United's form has nosedived since and they crashed to a third defeat on the bounce with a 3-1 defeat at Bradford Park Avenue on Wednesday.

Reflecting on the defeat at Broadhurst Park last month, Weaver said: “When you lose in that nature, the pain carries on. We have had three great wins since then but that was really deep in the stomach.

13-goal winger Brendon Daniels will be Town's lynch-pin in attack again (Photo: Craig Hurle)

13-goal winger Brendon Daniels will be Town's lynch-pin in attack again (Photo: Craig Hurle)

“After beating Solihull so well, it knocked us like a punch in the face.

“Hopefully we have gone some way to prove we have learnt our lessons defensively. But we have to take that hurt and turn in into passion and come out of the blocks all systems blazing.”

Town are now the frontrunners in the chase behind league leaders Solihull Moors with a gap of only four points to the pinnacle.

With only 14 matches left to play, supporters are daring to dream of a historic finish to the season.

"We have said all along we owe it to them to reciprocate their passion," added Weaver.

"They are singing for 90 minutes and are the driving force that keeps us going. The lads are getting inspired by them."

However, despite optimism rising, the Town boss would not be drawn into getting carried away with his in-form side’s chances and is is keeping a lid on bubbling the anticipation.

Weaver said: “It’s a good feeling at the minute. There’s a good buzz on and off the pitch. We’ve just got to keep ploughing on putting pressure on Solihull as well as solidifying our position in the top five.

“It maybe a bit steady of me but we don’t want to be saying things to get headlines or promising this or that. We just want to be winning each game and not change the mindset.

“Obviously, we want to chase that top sport down but there’s a long way still to go.

“It’s like we’re in a matchplay situation in golf. We have to aim high but we are breaking the goals down to keep focusing one game at a time.”

Andy Gascoigne has returned from a loan spell at Matlock Town and was on the bench for Town’s 1-0 win at Stalybridge on Tuesday night.

He is likely to feature again for FC United’s visit but Paul Thirlwell and Dom Knowles face another week on the sidelines, while left-back Louie Swain will serve the final game of a three-match suspension.

Lincoln City loanee Nat Brown, who extended his one month loan on Monday, should shake off a back injury and will challenge Dave McGurk for a starting place.

Supporters' View - Jordan Ford

"Two more games and six points. What a week for Harrogate Town! Whilst Simon will get the plaudits for these results, credit also needs to go to the backroom staff who are doing an excellent job. A masterstroke to bring in Lee Barraclough who works tirelessly scouting our next appointments. This reaped rewards at both North Ferriby and Stalybridge where we did not allow either team to play to their strengths. Mason Warren has slotted in excellently at left back and certainly has a bright future in the game. Two home games now inside a hopefully packed CNG stadium. Is it time to start dreaming Town fans?"