From the Terraces: Manner of Harrogate Town's win over Colchester United a sure sign of progress

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton's latest weekly fan column

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 8:26 am
Will Smith, left, is congratulated by team-mates Josh Falkingham and Dan Jones after putting Harrogate Town 2-0 against Colchester United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

In this life, you have to appreciate the rare moments of excitement when they creep up unexpectedly on you.

So it was that, finding ourselves in the car, having just visited the shops on Leeds Road, my wife and I decided to throw complete caution to the wind and drive the two miles to Knaresborough, in order to buy cakes from the bakers.

In these days of seemingly perpetual lockdown, that’s as thrilling a day-out as it currently gets.

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The excitement didn’t end there, however, as last night we Town fans witnessed a rare occurrence indeed: a victory where we weren’t biting our finger nails going into the last 10 minutes, as Town were already three goals up by this time, albeit against a Colchester United team on a difficult run of one win in 16.

The Essex club’s poor run of form certainly helped, and their confidence looked fragile, especially after Mark Beck hit the net within 30 seconds, but the efficient way in which Harrogate despatched the visitors was a joy to behold.

The Essex County Gazette refers to their team being defeated by ‘well-drilled hosts, who were superior in every department’, and I don’t think I can pay any greater tribute to the progress at the club than that.

I can’t comment on Beck’s opener, however, as I was scrabbling around looking for my debit card in order to type the details into the computer, as my daughter Molly came racing down the stairs shouting: “There’s been a goal already! Town are one up!”

It was one of those instances where I didn’t know whether to feel pleased or annoyed. In these days of such polarisation, and people feeling they have to take entrenched positions, I think it's fine to admit I felt both.

Of course, I’d left my debit card in the car, having been distracted by cakes.

The error had been compounded by the fact that it was a brand new card, so it wasn’t stored in the computer default. I’d lost the previous one when out buying cakes three weeks ago. Talk about not learning from the past.

Banking on the stream being slightly behind real time, we hurriedly completed payment and logged in, only to catch the tail end of the only replay, as the ball nestled in the net and Town players turned away in delight.

Fancy missing the start of a match, especially when we don’t even have to travel to the ground!

My worry was that, having watched five 1-0s in six matches, we had witnessed the only moment of excitement. Or not witnessed it, if you see what I mean.

I needn’t have worried, as Town made it seven wins in ten, scoring two more goals into the bargain.

The opposite was in evidence at the weekend, when Harrogate travelled to Stevenage, a team who had recently found a decent vein of form also.

Both sides were on a run of three consecutive clean-sheets, so if we weren’t to witness a goal-less draw, something had to break. It turned out to be Town.

Despite again being competitive, and the better team for long periods of the match, we fell to one lightning-fast break from a long ball, having naively left the hosts one-on-one, as defenders pushed up to attack a Dan Jones long throw-in.

Stevenage hit us with the one moment of clinical finishing, in much the same way as we had done to Grimsby Town, Barrow and Mansfield Town previously.

Following the Colchester win, it was pleasing to see Will Smith being voted man-of-the-match by supporters’ club members. He’s often fallen under the radar, as his performances are so consistently calm and flawless at the back.

Ever since he was thrown into the team as an emergency replacement, in the wake of the sudden departure of Callum Howe right at the start of last season, he’s been undroppable.

Simon Weaver’s display of confidence in his ability has paid dividends, and he’s grown into an accomplished central defender, who seems to read the game quite superbly.

His coolly-taken goal in the Colchester match only added to his overall performance as Town fought tooth and nail to keep a fifth clean-sheet in seven.

Together with Connor Hall and Warren Burrell, he surely has to be one of the best central defenders in League Two at this point in time, and it’s no surprise that Harrogate’s recent mean streak has coincided with his return from the injury he picked up back in November.