From the Terraces: Is it time to re-assess in the wake of genuinely worrying start?

Harrogate Town suffered a third straight National League defeat when they lost at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town suffered a third straight National League defeat when they lost at Dagenham & Redbridge on Saturday. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton's weekly musings on the club's 2019/20 campaign.

While the optimists amongst us could justifiably claim that the Woking defeat was just ‘one of those days’ and that Town could easily have gone on to beat Notts County if only Joe Leesley had converted from 12 yards, the 4-2 loss to Dagenham & Redbridge offered no such solace.

Even the most glass-half-full supporter would struggle to file what is a third defeat in eight days under the heading of ‘bad luck’.

It had all started so well, with Town taking the lead twice in an exhilarating end-to-end opening 25 minutes.

Certainly there was no slow start here, but the warning signs were present in the way that the home side consistently breached the Town defence.

In four of our five matches this season, we’ve looked incredibly open at times through the middle, with goalkeeper James Belshaw single-handedly keeping us in the game on multiple occasions.

With Callum Howe lost to Solihull, Will Smith out suspended, Lloyd Kerry injured and Liam Agnew and Toby Lees out on loan, our small squad looks wafer-thin in both defence and central midfield.

The other loss less talked about is the sale of Kelvin Langmead to Brackley. How we could dearly do with someone of his experience in our defence at this point in time.

Supporters are saying the loss in East London was the worst away performance since Nuneaton on a bleak Tuesday night two seasons ago and, most worryingly, were critical of the perceived lack of effort shown by the players.

I wasn’t at the match and, it wasn’t obvious from the radio commentary, but the fact that Simon Weaver came out and apologised to the travelling fans afterwards speaks volumes.

For the first time since I started writing this column, I must admit to being genuinely worried.

Yes, we’re only five matches in and there’s a heck of a long way to go, but it seems that my pre-season hopes of another play-off challenge may have to be reassessed.

Good players don’t become bad players over-night and we still have to put all of this into some sort of perspective.

Town have no God-given right to be in the National League rubbing shoulders with all these ex-Football League teams, and certainly no God-given right to be finishing sixth in it every season.

We’re here though, because we deserve to be.

Yet, the success we’ve seen has been as much down to hard work and application, as skill. The players have consistently left everything out on the pitch.

Rest on your laurels, or give anything less than 100 per cent, and this league will punish you.

Learning from all of this, maybe we need to go back to basics, re-assess our expectations and start digging in as a club to amass enough points to ensure we maintain our place in this division first and foremost.

Once that milestone has been achieved, anything else is a bonus.

One of the only positive things to come out of Dagenham at the weekend was Brendan Kiernan smashing in his first competitive goal in a Harrogate shirt.

He’s been the success story from our new signings so far, seemingly doing everything but finding the back of the net in the opening four games.

In an interview on Radio York following his man-of-the-match, yet penalty-missing, performance on the opening day, his undimmed enthusiasm shone through like a beacon.

He just wanted to keep winning the ball, running at opposing defences and making things happen.

That, in a nutshell, is exactly the attitude Town need going forward.