Harrogate Town set for top-of-the-table showdown with Salford
Harrogate Town head into Saturday's top-of-the-table showdown with National League North title rivals Salford City buoyed by a 5-0 midweek demolition of St Albans City.
Simon Weaver’s side set up a meeting with Billericay Town in the third round of the FA Trophy courtesy of an emphatic replay success on Tuesday evening.
And boss Weaver believes that both the result and the manner of their victory will stand his side in good stead ahead of their trip to tackle the league leaders.
“It was very satisfying and the best we have played in some time,” the Town manager reflected.
“We passed the ball very well and showed great attacking intent. After two indifferent performances this was the perfect tonic and sets us up nicely for a massive game at Salford.
“We have to look to try and carry that display into Saturday. We need to be focused on playing our own game, making sure our energy levels are right, that we are disciplined and don’t give anything away.
“If we do all of these things then I’m sure we can get a positive result and if we go there and beat them it makes things very interesting up at the top of the table.”
Town, currently second in the National League North standings, trail Salford by eight points – albeit with a game in hand – meaning that defeat on Saturday would leave them with a mountain to climb as far as the title race is concerned.
Weaver, however, is playing down any talk of this weekend’s clash being decisive in terms of who will finish in pole position.
“It is a big game, but I don’t think you can say that if Salford win then that is it,” he added.
“There is a long a way to go and they have a tough run of fixtures coming up.
“They were 10 points in front of us before Christmas and we closed that gap and could have overtaken them if we had won at Nuneaton last week.”
City, part-owned by Manchester United’s class of 92 stars Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, Phil Neville, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt, have won their last two games to open up a healthy lead at the summit.
Prior to that, a run of four games without a victory during the festive period saw the Ammies’ advantage narrowed to just two points, Town having trailed them by 10 earlier in December.
Weaver’s side lost out 2-1 at home to Salford back in September and will have to be at their best if they are to avenge that defeat, but make the trip to the Peninsula Stadium in good health.
“We’re looking strong,” the Town boss continued.
“I’ve got some decisions to make in terms of who starts the game, because we’ve got a lot of players pushing for places.
“We’ve rested a few in recent games and they’re fresh again now, while the likes of Dom Knowles and Louie Swain have come back into the side and done brilliantly.
“I guess I’m going to be unpopular with a few of the lads when I name the team. It’s a bit of a headache, but it’s a nice one to have.”