Gillingham FC 1 Harrogate Town 0: 'Unfortunate' Sulphurites are making 'progress', insists Simon Weaver

Simon Weaver felt that Harrogate Town were "unfortunate" to come away from their trip to League Two leaders Gillingham empty-handed, insisting that his struggling side are making progress.
Harrogate Town forward Sam Folarin in action during Saturday's 1-0 League Two loss at Gillingham. Pictures: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town forward Sam Folarin in action during Saturday's 1-0 League Two loss at Gillingham. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town forward Sam Folarin in action during Saturday's 1-0 League Two loss at Gillingham. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

A resolute defensive display seemed as if it had earned the Sulphurites what would have been a very decent point down in Kent on Saturday, only for them to concede a scruffy goal in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Shaun Williams' late strike condemned the Wetherby Road outfit to a fifth defeat in seven league outings this term and saw them drop to 21st place in the table.

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But Weaver refused to be too downbeat about either his side's latest loss, or the overall picture.

Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver at Priestfield Stadium.Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver at Priestfield Stadium.
Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver at Priestfield Stadium.

"We've just got to keep working,” he said. “We can't let a 1-0 define us in a negative way. We're a work in progress, but there's certainly progress.

"It stings because their goal came right at the death but we turned up today and put in a good performance. I thought that we were really solid as a team and we were good in possession, we just lacked that edge in the final third.

"Other than that, we have gone a long way towards getting something at a top-of-the-league team so we can't be too disappointed with anyone who took part.

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"Gillingham have got very capable players, but they never looked like playing around us. On a great pitch, you expect them to cause us problems, but I thought that the shape was really good and we had opportunities to pass the ball and frustrate them.

"We were turning their crowd against them, so I think that we can count ourselves unfortunate today, but it's a step in the right direction in terms of the performance."

Perhaps the most worrying thing about Saturday's loss was how toothless Town again looked in attack as they once again failed to find the back of the net.

They have scored just four times in League Two so far this term, with two of those goals coming from the penalty spot. They are also yet to register a league goal from open play in more than 11 hours of football.

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On his side's continued failings in the offensive third, Weaver added: "It was the final ball, we had the widemen playing into narrow positions and taking up great spots, but sometimes we overhit passes, and also there were opportunities to cross when we were wider and we came back and it was too slow.

"We want more balls into the box to get the bread and butter goals for the strikers.

"Everybody has bought into trying to pass the football more and we want to have that method of playing where we keep the ball and are patient with it, but in that final third we need to be more cut-throat.

"I think that we were enjoying keeping the ball, but we enjoy keeping the ball and creating chances and winning more, don't we."

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The only goal of Saturday's contest eventually materialised at the wrong end of the field following an almighty scramble in the Harrogate box at a Gillingham corner.

And with the Sulphurites failing to adequately clear their lines despite having numerous chances to do so, Williams was able to pounce from close range to decide matters.

"We've got to get better at making sure that nearly a clean-sheet is actually a clean-sheet and we come away with something," Weaver continued.