James Belshaw won't accept Harrogate Town's season fizzling out

Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw says he has no interest in being part of a team that is just going through the motions between now and the end of the season.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:22 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 8:44 am
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

Having got themselves into a good position to mount a late charge for the League Two play-off places by early March, a run of four defeats in five matches has seen the Sulphurites drop to 15th place in the table.

While it is still mathematically possible for Simon Weaver's side to finish in the top-seven, or indeed be relegated, either scenario now seems extremely unlikely.

With nine fixtures of their debut EFL campaign remaining, Town sit nine points shy of the division's final play-off berth and 13 clear of the bottom two. There is a growing fear that with nothing tangible to play for, 2020/21 is in danger of fizzling out.

Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Southend United was Harrogate Town's fourth in fifth matches.

Mid-table obscurity is nothing to be sniffed at for a newly-promoted club still finding its feet in English football's fourth tier, though 30-year-old Belshaw says that settling is not an option.

"There's that age-old thing about the season fizzling out and I don't want to be part of a team that does that. I don't want to be a mid-table League Two team, I want to push on," he said following Saturday's 1-0 home loss to relegation-threatened Southend United.

"We'll be doing everything we can to fight for these last few games and finish as high as we can because it stands you in good stead on your CV if players down the line can say we finished 10th in our first season in League Two – it's better than finishing 17th.

"Wherever lads want to play their football next year there's a lot to play for and a lot of decisions to be made.

“I've not looked at the table but I think the play-offs were a bit hopeful anyway, now the gaffer's said it's nine games for the lads to perform. They've probably left the door open for others to come into the side and it's nine games to play for people's futures."

There is also the small matter of Town's FA Trophy final against Concord Rangers to contest on May 3 to consider.

As motivating factors go, Belshaw says that they don't come much bigger than the opportunity to play at Wembley Stadium.

"Wembley should be motivation for lads," he added.

"There's a game at Wembley to be had. The gaffer should pick the team that deserves to play and lads now will be fighting for shirts because they want to walk out at Wembley, hopefully in front of fans.

"There's a big prize and it will be the lads that perform day in, day out and show the right attitude that will play.

"If that's not enough of a carrot, I don't really know what is."

Having embarked on a couple of decent runs over the course of the campaign, Town have proved that they possess both the quality and character to succeed at League Two level, leaving Belshaw confident that he and his team-mates can finish the campaign strongly - providing their mindset is right.

"There's enough in the changing room to go on a run – there's a lot of good players in there and good lads," he said.

"I love them all to bits but now's the time to roll up our sleeves and grind out these last few games."

Town return to action when they visit Walsall on Good Friday, 3pm kick-off.