Harrogate Railway 0-4 Spennymoor Town: Ashforth backs goalkeeper Tom Goodwin over errors
Shotstopper's errors cost struggling Railway against Evo-Stik First Divisiom North play-off contenders
Boss Lee Ashforth defended goalkeeper Tom Goodwin after two handling errors cost Harrogate Railway dear against promotion chasing Spennymoor Town on Monday night.
Goodwin was at fault for Spennymoor's opener when he dropped a corner into a packed six-yard box and made a similar mistake from another set-piece delivery for the visitors' third in the second half.
The goalkeeper had little chance to stop Joe Tait's penalty which had doubled Town's lead, while David Dowson put a gloss on the score line for the Northerners late on with a fine finish.
Ashforth brought Goodwin back into his first team after a long spell on the sidelines for the trip to Glossop North End on Saturday - replacing Harrogate Town number two Tom Stewart.
Despite conceding nine times in the two games since his return, Ashforth backed the goalkeeper to find the form that made him a prize asset under Billy Miller 12 months ago.
Ashforth said: "I'm not blaming Tom, he got blocked off on both corners so he couldn't really come and get it. We have to look after him a little better and make sure we don't concede them.
"It's never just the goalkeeper's fault, it's as a team.
"Tom has my full confidence that he's going to do well. He was brilliant last year, everyone was raving about him. He'll get that back.
"I don't think he's made errors that badly. He lacks a bit of confidence but he has no reason to.
"In the remaining 17 games I'm sure he will play the majority of them if not all of them. I'm not looking for another keeper, we have other areas on the pitch that we need to improve on and I will still be looking at one or two more players in the next few weeks."
Railway begun brightly under the lights at Station View and Nathan Curtis almost caught his former club cold with a fierce drive from distance, only for the keeper Daniel Lowson - who infamously turned up late for the reverse league fixture - to turn behind.
Goodwin's first involvement was a confident act, too, as he raced off his line to thwart Dowson. But Spennymoor were gifted the opener on 18 minutes when the young 'keeper spilled a corner from the right and Nathan Fisher collected the loose ball and slammed into the top corner.
Railway almost levelled immediately when Curtis volleyed over before Goodwin made a superb one-handed save from Mark Anderson's 30-yard dipping strike.
Despite lying 16 places below Spennymoor before kick-off, Railway were fronting up well and could have had a penalty when Dan Thirkell was sent sprawling to the ground on the edge of the box.
Images have shown that contact was made inside the box but a free-kick was awarded and Lawrance Hunter's delivery was deflected and cleared off the line by Tait.
The first 45 was as good as it got for Railway as Spennymoor camped inside the home half after the restart.
Goodwin made another fine stop from distance before any Railway hopes of a comeback were dashed in the final quarter.
First, Thirkell brought down his man with a clumsy challenge inside the box and Tait sent Goodwin the wrong way from 12 yards.
Eight minutes later, a corner from the left was spilled at the near post, with a distraught Goodwin ruing a handling error under the close attentions of Gavin Cogdon
Railway huffed and puffed in search of a consolation but were let down by deliveries into the box or the crispness of their attacking link-up.
And as the hosts tired on the heavy pitch, Spennymoor added a fourth hammer blow in the 86th minute as Dowson raced through and slotted into the far corner.
Ashforth credited his players work rate as he searched for positives from his side's ninth game without a win.
The boss said: "I thought we put in another good performance against a team who are up fighting for the play-offs on a really difficult night and a difficult pitch.
"We matched them again until the 60th/70th minute and ran out of steam a little bit. They are a really good side.
"These aren't the important games. These are the free hits. Unfortunately we haven't got anything but we have some big games coming up. They are the important ones - when we're playing teams in and around us fighting for their lives. We have to pick points up from those games.
Ashforth had thrown new signing Matty Lovegreen, from Darlington 1883, straight in at right-back in a defensive structure also containing teenagers Harry Coates and Bradford City youngster Luca Mellor.
Chris Ovington also returned after missing Saturday's trip to Glossop, while striker Nathan Curtis made his first appearance on home turf alongside Tom Owen.
Ashforth added: "Tom Owen and Nathan Curtis looked good linking together, we had Chris Ovington back in. Matty Lovegreen was brilliant at right back, probably our man of the match."
"We conceded two goals from corners and one from a penalty. It is disappointing and we'll look at it in training and try and put it right.
"The players have to lift themselves up again now. We are no worse off than we were and we've played one of the top teams. I think we have come a long way in the last two or three weeks."