Harrogate Railway need to be 'on their game' to progress in FA Vase

Mick O’Connell has demanded that his Harrogate Railway players start to bring their A-game on a more regular basis.

Saturday, 25th September 2021, 6:23 am
Updated Saturday, 25th September 2021, 6:26 am
Harrogate Railway manager Mick O'Connell. Picture: Gerard Binks

The Starbeck club have struggled for consistency this term and, having dug deep for back-to-back victories against Ollerton and Armthorpe Welfare in the last 10 days, they suffered a 3-1 home reverse at the hands of lowly Clipstone on Tuesday evening.

Victory would have lifted the Rail up to sixth place in the NCEL Division One standings and boss O’Connell was understandably frustrated after the final whistle.

“Honestly, this is a massive opportunity lost,” he lamented.

“We just weren’t at the races and I don’t know why. It feels a bit like two steps forwards, then one back.

“We were so good in the second half at Armthorpe on Saturday that I thought we’d turned a corner. I thought things had clicked. We were totally dominant, we hit the post twice and only their goalkeeper stopped the scoreline becoming embarrassing.

“But against Clipstone we just weren’t at it. They kept eight or 10 men behind the ball – as they’re entitled to do away from home – and we couldn’t break them down. We were sloppy in the final third.

“We are a good side when we are on our game, but we need to be on it more often.”

Next up for Railway, who took a 14th-minute lead against Clipstone when Joe Crosby netted for the second game in succession, is this Saturday’s FA Vase second qualifying round trip to Cleator Moor Celtic of the North West Counties League.

O’Connell is expecting a tough away day, and insists that his troops must raise their standards.

“We played them in the Vase last year and beat them on penalties, so we know a bit about them from that, and I’ve also watched footage of them from this season,” he added.

“They’re big, strong and physical and they will look to try and put it on us. It’s going to be a difficult game and we want to progress in the Vase, so we have to be much better.

“We have to go back to basics and start doing things right. I pride myself on my teams being full of energy and outworking opponents. We didn’t do that on Tuesday, so there’ll be one or two who played in that game who wont be starting at the weekend.”