EFL Trophy is 'very important' to Harrogate Town this season, says ambitious Simon Weaver

The EFL Trophy is very much a priority for Harrogate Town this season.

Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 11:49 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th October 2021, 11:50 am
Harrogate Town celebrate after Lloyd Kerry, centre, fired them into an early lead against Newcastle United U21s. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites secured their place in the competition’s knock-out stage by beating Newcastle United Under-21s 2-0 on Tuesday evening, moving to the top of Group H in the process.

That result, coupled with a 3-1 home success over Mansfield in late August means that Simon Weaver’s team will progress into the last 32 regardless of what happens when they take on League One heavyweights Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on November 9.

And having made the perfect start to just their second-ever Trophy campaign, boss Weaver says that his players have every right to be dreaming of a third Wembley appearance in as many years.

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Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver.

“The Papa John’s Trophy is very important,” he said.

“We had our pre-match meeting before the game and we said what our expectations of Newcastle were, but also said that the aim is to progress as far as possible.

“This Trophy was created originally for the likes of these Under-21s teams to come into senior football and see what it’s like, so we’re not here to be nice about it, we’re here to win the game.

“If they learned something from it, then great, but it’s about us continuing in this competition because it’s an opportunity, if you’re successful, to play at Wembley and that is our dream again.

“If we expect from ourselves to keep on going, we would dearly love to get back on the M1 and head towards Wembley again, it would just be amazing.”

Having failed to win in four games prior to Saturday’s trip to Oldham Athletic, Town now have back-to-back victories to their name.

Weaver wasn’t completely satisfied with all aspects of his players’ performance during their 2-1 League Two success at the weekend, but felt there were signs of progress shown against the young Magpies.

“We went through the video of Saturday because there were elements to improve upon and I thought the lads took everything on board.

“Our shape, right across the middle four, was a lot more compact so we won the ball back because we knew they’d try and slip balls through.

“For our boys it was about winning the game, but progressing our own game-plan and being better and better. There were signs again of another progression. We were on the front foot in every aspect.”