Goal-machine Ainge nets league award

Simon Ainge celebrates another goal for Harrogate Town. Picture: Caught Light
Simon Ainge celebrates another goal for Harrogate Town. Picture: Caught Light
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The goalscoring exploits of Harrogate Town’s man of the moment Simon Ainge have seen him named the Vanarama National League North’s Player of the Month.

The defender-turned-striker has netted 17 times already this season, despite spending the majority of the campaign playing as a centre-half.

Simon Ainge with his Vanarama National League North Player of the Month award

Simon Ainge with his Vanarama National League North Player of the Month award

A revelation since taking up a more advanced role in Simon Weaver’s team in January, 29-year-old Ainge has plundered 12 goals in his last seven appearances.

And four strikes in as many games during Town’s unbeaten February earned him a gong which he admits he is only too happy to receive.

“It’s nice to get the recognition after what has been a good month for both myself and more importantly the team,” Ainge said.

“It’s usually the strikers that get the headlines in football, and having spent most of my career as a defender I’m quite enjoying getting the praise for a change.

“Things are going well at the moment and I’m enjoying my football as much as I have in a long time.

“It would be even better if my goals had helped us to the top of the league, but I’m hoping that I’ve got a few more in me yet and I can do my bit to get us into a play-off place.”

Ainge does have prior experience of playing as a striker, but none of it is recent. He was signed by Bradford City as an attacker at 11 and played up front until he was 14 before dropping back into midfield and eventually finding what seemed like his natural position as a central defender.

Thus, the former England C international concedes that although delighted with his recent form in front of goal, it has come as something of a surprise, even to him.

“I’m buzzing with how I’ve done, but it’s been a bit of a shock,” he added.

“I’m confident in my own ability, but I didn’t imagine I would score as many as I have done.

“I feel confident when I’m walking out on to the pitch and I’m backing myself to score in every game at the minute.

“I’ve been listening to what the coaches have been telling me to do and just trying to get in the right positions. When the chances are coming I’m attempting to stay relaxed, not over-think what I’m doing and aiming to hit the target.

“It seems to be working for me, and hopefully this will continue for a while yet.”