Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver has been losing sleep over wretched run against Salford City, but now has a 'breakthrough' to savour

So consumed was he by thoughts of ending Harrogate Town's losing run against Salford City, Simon Weaver had trouble getting to sleep the night before his team travelled to the Peninsula Stadium.

Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 9:32 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd January 2021, 9:48 am
Jay Williams, left, and Josh March celebrate with Harrogate Town goal-scorer Ed Francis, right, after he netted a stoppage-time equaliser against Salford City. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

Following a sequence of five matches in National League North, the National League and most recently in League Two where they have ended up on the losing side, the Sulphurites dug deep to snatch a late point in Greater Manchester on Friday evening.

On each previous occasion, Town have been beaten by just a single goal, competing well with their big-spending rivals without quite doing enough to earn even a share of the spoils.

But, Ed Francis' dramatic 93rd-minute equaliser ensured that on this occasion, they had something to show for their efforts against their two-time promotion rivals from the clubs' recent non-league days.

Town boss Simon Weaver congratulates Ed Francis after the final whistle.

And that late goal, which saw goalkeeper James Belshaw venture forward for the last-gasp corner and provide the assist following an almighty scramble inside the home box, certainly meant a lot to boss Weaver, who exploded in delight on the sideline.

"I ran on to the pitch, it was just a great feeling. We've been denied a point here and at home against Salford on a number of occasions where I think we've been a match for them, at least, and tonight hopefully we've broken that spell," he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"It's been immensely frustrating. It always gets you going, this game. It means a huge amount. They've always been quite tight games with Salford but we've lost. And that hurts.

"I went to bed last night and said to my wife 'I don't think I'll be able to sleep'. There is just something extra about this game.

"It's almost like the challenge of doing something different to them but being on the same journey, and it is about the journey, it's about getting there in the end.

"This is so satisfying, it feels like a breakthrough."

Having fallen behind to a strike from Harrogate-born Leeds United-loanee Robbie Gotts' 21st-minute strike, Town drew level when Jack Muldoon pounced on Di'Shon Bernard's under-hit back-pass eight minutes before half-time.

City restored their lead in the second period in fortunate fashion after James Belshaw parried Richie Towell's effort and the ball rebounded into the back of the net off Brandon Thomas-Asante.

The visiting players didn't let their heads go down, however, finishing strongly and eventually profiting from a flurry of late chances which they created.

And, it was that determination to keep fighting which left Weaver most satisfied.

"I think a point was the least we deserved for that outstanding energy in the performance and that Harrogate Town steel which was at the forefront of the performance," he added.

"It could have even soul-destroying going 2-1 down, but that wasn't evident and there was a feeling that we wouldn't be denied tonight, and we certainly weren't in the end.

"The style of the draw really pleased me, there was fighting spirit all the way."

The result keeps Town 18th in the League Two standings, though moves them six points clear of the relegation zone.