Harrogate Town 3 Hartlepool United 2: The good, the bad and the ugly

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver felt that his team showed the good, the bad and the ugly sides of their game during Saturday's dramatic comeback victory over Hartlepool United.

Sunday, 15th December 2019, 9:55 am
Updated Sunday, 15th December 2019, 9:56 am
Simon Weaver and Paul Thirlwell applaud the Harrogate Town fans following Saturday's FA Trophy win over Hartlepool United. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Simon Weaver and Paul Thirlwell applaud the Harrogate Town fans following Saturday's FA Trophy win over Hartlepool United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Trailing 2-0 with 76 minutes on the clock, the Wetherby Road outfit looked to be heading out of the FA Trophy at the first-round stage, only to then go on and win the match courtesy of a remarkable late recovery.

Peter Kioso's own goal gave Town hope before Connor Hall levelled matters, Brendan Kiernan then pouncing in stoppage-time to seal a 3-2 success.

Yet, as pleased as he was by his players' second-half improvement and the character they showed in staging their late fightback, Weaver was still hugely disappointed by what he saw during the opening 45.

"I think we showed the good and bad sides of Harrogate Town,"

"First half, we were miles off it, which is so disappointing after a good week's training. We were loose in possession and off the ball we weren't strong enough. It was limp, awful from our point of view.

"We read the riot act and second half, we seemed to set our stall out right from the off and passed the ball better. We were more patient in possession and manage to prize open a few chances to score.

"The goals weren't particularly pretty, but it really doesn't matter in cup football. We found a way to win.

"The lads have got to take a lot of credit for the fighting spirit. They could have come out sulking after what we said at half-time but they didn't, they fought hard."

Despite a slow start that saw them fall behind to Tyler Hamilton's early opener, Town could easily have been back on level terms by half-time, but a dreadful 10-minute spell meant that they actually went into the interval 2-0 down.

Jon Stead missed two gilt-edged chances in quick succession, one of which was from the penalty spot, before some schoolboy stuff resulted in them being stung on the counter-attack after making a mess of a corner at the opposite end of the field.

"Steady had a good chance and pulled it wide, then missed the penalty and then we conceded from our corner. It is so frustrating," Weaver added.

"We've got to learn from that goal. We can't be so naive."

In the end, the fact that Town emerged triumphant on a freezing cold afternoon owed much to individual errors from visiting players.

Pools centre-half Kioso continued the recent trend of opposition defenders helping the ball in their own net at the CNG Stadium to give Harrogate hope, before experienced ex-Middlesbrough stopper Dimi Konstantopoulos blundered for the hosts' second and third goals.

But, Weaver felt that his side got their rewards for putting balls into the box and asking questions of their opponents.

"You've got more of a chance if you're playing in their territory and we were, without being at our best, but we started to pass the ball better and get it out wide," he added.

"We just thought that if we can stick it around their keeper there would be chances, there were a few loose balls out of his hands.

"He's 41 and hadn't played for some time. You've got to ask questions of him. You've got to put balls right under him and test him.

"In the end, there were a couple of hopeful balls, but so what. You have to find their achilles heel and hurt them.

"The winner was a bit of a direct one, but you've got to use everything at your disposal."