Gateshead 1 Harrogate Town 0: First loss of pre-season is no big deal - Joe Leesley

Joe Leesley in pre-season action for Harrogate Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Joe Leesley in pre-season action for Harrogate Town. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Joe Leesley insists that Harrogate Town's first defeat of pre-season won't detract too much from what has been a positive summer for the club.

Boss Simon Weaver has overhauled his squad, adding seven new players, all of whom have played their part in a run of four consecutive victories prior to Tuesday's trip to Gateshead.

And although the Wetherby Road outfit's winning sequence came to an end following a 1-0 defeat at the International Stadium, Leesley is adamant that the mood in the camp remains upbeat with their opening National League fixture fast approaching.

"Losing is always tough to take if you're a proper footballer - even in a game of five-a-side," Leesley said.

"You should want to win every match, and it would have been nice to make it five out of five for the summer, but nobody is going to be hitting the panic button.

"I wouldn't say that we'd already forgotten about the result before we got on the coach at Gateshead, but it certainly isn't going to effect anyone's mentality.

"I don't think you can read too much into pre-season results. Last year we lost to Scarborough, but look at the start we went on to make to our first season in the National League.

"It's a little bit of a setback, but we're all still very positive inside the changing room. We've had a good summer, we've got a stronger squad than last year with the quality and characters that have come in and everyone is just desperate for Solihull [on the opening day of the season] now.

"We're ready to go and the lads can't wait."

Town found themselves a goal down to their National League North hosts on 23 minutes when home striker Paul Blackett beat goalkeeper James Belshaw to a ball over the top and won his side a penalty after the pair collided inside the box.

Belshaw dived the right way, but was unable to prevent Blackett's spot-kick from finding the back of the net for 1-0.

Harrogate's number one was then forced into a fine save to deny the same player soon afterwards before George Smith found Mark Beck inside the six-yard box at the other end, however the Town number nine was off-target with a diving header.

Weaver's men began the second period brightly, half-time substitute Jack Muldoon teeing up Brendan Kiernan to fire wide and Warren Burrell volleying a spectacular effort into the side-netting.

A Leesley free-kick then picked out Connor Hall at the far post, but having beaten his marker to the ball he watched his powerful header come back of the cross-bar.

Still Town continued to create chances and should have drawn level when Smith again delivered for Beck, however he couldn't find a finishing touch from close range.

The visitors finished the game on top and Lloyd Kerry saw a header from Kiernan's cross saved, though that was as good as it got for them as Gateshead managed to see the game out with their slender lead intact.

"First half, I think that Gateshead had the better of it, but in the second 45 we were much better," Leesley added.

"We went a bit more direct to Becky [Mark Beck] and got some joy with the second balls and the amount of free-kicks that we won.

"We had some really good chances, enough to have won all five pre-season games, nevermind just one, but it wasn't to be."