'Great feeling' for Simon Weaver as Harrogate Town secure League Two status with victory over Bradford City
Harrogate Town's derby victory over Bradford City ensured that they will be playing League Two football once again next season.
The Sulphurites, promoted to Football League for the first time in their history last summer, were challenging for the play-offs as recently as late March, though a run of seven matches without a win has left them looking over their shoulders in recent weeks.
But, Saturday's 2-1 success over the Bantams took them onto 53 points for the campaign and means that they are now mathematically safe from the drop with four games remaining.
Their recent run of poor form had seen the Wetherby Road club claim just two points from the previous 21 on offer, thus leaving manager Simon Weaver relieved to see his players finally get over the line.
"It's such a great feeling because it's been quite stressful, waiting for it to eventually sort itself out mathematically whereby we knew and it was confirmed," he said.
"It's a lovely day to achieve that, especially being a Yorkshire derby win as well.
"It was hugely important, it's been too long really, it's been a frustrating spell. Right at the start of this drought of wins we were in contention for seventh place, so we've drifted and it's been frustrating because on a number of occasions we were so close to getting more points on the board.
"To be honest, if someone had said to us at the start of the season that 'you're going to be safe at this point' we'd have gabbed it with both hands because it's been a difficult season with no real break after winning the play-off final.
"Ten days later we started the new season and the players have been exhausted at times, but we get a second bite of the cherry next year and hopefully we can improve upon our position, helped by fans back in the stadium - which will be brilliant."
With Southend United and Grimsby Town having been so far adrift at the bottom for some time, it would have taken something spectacular for either of those sides to have put together a run of results that would have enabled them to reel Harrogate back in, though Weaver says he has seen it happen.
"Being mathematically safe should relieve the pressure a little bit because you'd be naive not to look at the table and think 'what if they win five on the bounce?' - which can happen because it's a crazy league and Grimsby have beaten Bolton," he added.
"I thought to myself 'don't be one of those stories where a disastrous run leads to relegation and an unbelievable run leads to one of the bottom two teams who have been down there all season suddenly surviving on the last day.' We've seen it, I've supported a team who went down in those circumstances. Football can be ruthless."
Jack Muldoon beat Richard O'Donnell one-on-one to hand Harrogate a 22nd-minute lead at the EnviroVent Stadium, though City deservedly levelled matters late in the second half when Andy Cook swept home following good work by substitute Ollie Crankshaw.
But, with the Batams looking the more likely to go on and win the game, Josh McPake curled home an 89th minute strike from the edge of the box to restore the hosts' advantage.