Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver has demanded his midfielders raise their intensity in pre-season matches.
Town were lucky to retain the John Smith’s Trophy on Saturday afternoon against rivals Harrogate Railway, with penalties separating the two friendly rivals after a 1-1 draw.
James Walshaw continued his strong pre-season form to net in the clash, after Steve Bromley had put Railway ahead after the break (full report and photos on page 80).
The match was played in boiling conditions and drinks breaks were required midway through the halves.
But despite the heat, Weaver questioned the attitude from some of his midfielders, and said improvements were needed before the opening game against Tamworth a week on Saturday.
Former Leeds United man Si Lenighan started alongside Adam Nowakowski and Lloyd Kerry in a midfield trio.
He said: “In midfield there wasn’t the same anger in the tackles. We can’t take it for granted against any opposition that we’re going to win that battle.
“There were aerial challenges that we didn’t win and people were trying to bring the ball down instead of keeping it simple.
“In terms of attitude the midfield area has to step it up in order for me to select the midfield for the first game .
“Some people will say I’m being too harsh and that players will be inconsistent. But not here. We want a consistent, intense horrible attitude in that midfield.”
Weaver did single out Kerry for praise and also said Luke Dean was close to a contract for the new season.
Dean played at Town during the historic run to the FA Cup second round and has been a regular figure during pre-season.
He will get another chance to shine tonight against a Sheffield Wednesday XI, and should also feature in the home friendlies against Worksop Town (Saturday) and Sheffield United (Tuesday).
“Luke has been doing everything in his powers for that starting berth,” added Weaver.
Weaver will also give another chance to former York City trainee Harry Coates in tonight’s friendly while youngster Jack Emmett will also get a chance in the first team after impressing in training.