Calvin Miller: Ex-Celtic winger pleased with Harrogate Town debut, but feels new club deserved more against Bolton Wanderers
Calvin Miller’s Harrogate Town career didn’t begin with a victory, though the 22-year-old feels that it really ought to have done.
The Wetherby Road outfit suffered their first League Two defeat since promotion to the EFL when they lost out 2-1 at home to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday.
That was despite dominating the second half of a contest where they played some excellent football without quite doing enough inside the opposition penalty area to make up for two poor goals which they gave away at the other end.
And, while new recruit Miller concedes that Harrogate weren’t ruthless enough, he still believes that they were unfortunate to finish up empty-handed.
“It was a bit of a slow start and we gave away the early goal, but that’s when I thought we started to play a wee bit,” the former Glasgow Celtic winger reflected.
“We gave them a sloppy second, but second half we were brilliant, we dominated that half, we just needed the second goal.
“After we scored, we literally dominated the rest of the game. We had the chances, but Bolton were just more clinical from our mistakes.
“It just shows you, the way they [Bolton] celebrated the final whistle, they knew that we were in it and definitely had a chance of winning the game.
“We could have got something out of it, we just needed someone putting the chances away. You’ve got to take your chances at this level, you’ve got to be ruthless.”
Miller, who made his Celtic debut under Brendan Rogers back in 2016, was only unveiled as a Harrogate player on the morning of Saturday’s game due to a delay in Town receiving confirmation that his registration had been completed.
He did however waste little time making an impression, coming close to a bagging a first-half equaliser with an effort which drew a good save from Bolton goalkeeper Billy Crellin, before creating a 61st-minute opportunity for George Thomson that his team-mate could not miss.
“I thought I did alright,” added Miller, who joins Town on a free transfer having spent the summer training with Plymouth Argyle following his release by the Bhoys in May.
“I got an assist and I judge myself on goals and assists because if I can contribute them then I’m helping the team.
“Getting at defenders, getting balls into the box, that’s my game, so I’m happy to come in and do that straight away.
“I’ve settled in quickly, this is a great bunch of boys and everybody has made me feel welcome.
“Coming through at Celtic, a club that always wants to play, I think the style of play here will suit my game, we just need to kick on now.”
Miller’s key contribution came just after the hour-mark when he received the ball from Dan Jones on the left flank, then sped towards byline before producing an inch-perfect pull-back for Thomson to dispatch.
Harrogate were however already two goals down by that point having twice switched off inside their defensive third.
Bolton striker Eoin Doyle scored 26 goals in League Two last season, though it is unlikely that any of them will have come easier than the one which broke the deadlock with 11 minutes on the clock.
Ali Crawford delivered a right-wing corner to the near post where the Trotters number nine was able to meet the ball unmarked and finish first-time.
Things almost got worse for Town shortly afterwards as Doyle came in off the left and managed to take ball past Connor Hall, then Will Smith, before slotting beyond James Belshaw, only for the sliding Jones to come to his side’s rescue with a superb goal-saving block.
Wanderers would eventually double their advantage 10 minutes into the second period, capitalising on a Jones throw-in that had too much on it for Connor Kirby as Doyle turned provider and played Nathan Delfouneso in to beat Belshaw from close range.
That strike came rather against the run of play, and Harrogate were soon back in the contest, though despite continuing to dominate the second period, halving the deficit was as good as things got for them.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Fallowfield, Smith, Hall, D Jones; Thomson, Falkingham, Kirby, Miller (Walker 69); Martin (Kiernan 55), Beck (Stead 75). Unused substitutes: Cracknell, Burrell, Kerry.
Bolton Wanderers: Crellin; Brockbank, Santos, Delaney; G Jones (Hickman 42), Crawford, Sarcevic, Tutte (Comley 76), Mascoll (Gordon 71); Doyle, Delfouneso. Unused substitutes: Taft, White, Darcy, Gnahoua.
Referee: B Speedie.