Harrogate Town can't be giving away soft goals if they want to challenge, says James Belshaw after Forest Green Rovers loss

James Belshaw felt that Harrogate Town matched title-chasing Forest Green Rovers on Saturday, but conceded that giving away soft goals will make it difficult for his team to take points off League Two's top teams.

Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:40 am
Updated Monday, 15th March 2021, 8:49 am
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw in action against Forest Green Rovers. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites found themselves two down inside 50 minutes having initially fallen behind when they failed to clear their lines following a free-kick, allowing Chris Stokes to fire through a crowd of bodies.

And things got worse just four minutes after the resumption when Kane Wilson got forward from right-back, exchanged passes with Jamille Matt on the edge of the box and slotted in from close range.

"We feel bit flat. We huffed and puffed without having that bit of quality. The last couple of games we have been moving the ball better than had been doing, but there were some sloppy moments," Town goalkeeper Belshaw reflected.

Sulphurites midfielder George Thomson is closed down by a Rovers defender.

"We gave them two poor goals. The first one is from a ball into our box which we don't deal with, the second one is really poor, their right-back starts the move and finishes it in the six-yard-box, so we'll have a look at that.

"We just can't be giving away the kind of goals that we have. We've been really solidly defensively in recent weeks but to give a goal way from a wide free-kick which we worked on yesterday and then the second one was more disappointing.

"The goal at the second half is a bit of a kick in the teeth, however after that we were a bit braver on the ball and created a few chances but ultimately didn't do enough.

"You can't fault the effort or the energy, but in terms of the quality we weren't quite there on the day."

Town raised their game in the second period and did have a go at forcing their way back into the contest, though it took until stoppage-time for them to get on the score-sheet as Jay Williams nodded home what proved to be a mere consolation goal.

But, with Forest Green currently third in the League Two standings and just a single point shy of top spot, Belshaw feels that the Sulphurites have nothing to fear in any of their remaining 11 fixtures this term.

Saturday's loss may leave them eight points off the division's final play-off berth, but the 31-year-old stopper insists that he and his team-mates are not happy to settle for finishing mid-table at this stage.

"I think every team we play knows they've been in a game. There's never an easy match against us, but if that's the standard of the top-three then I'm not too worried," he added.

"It's more frustrating than anything because we can compete with the teams who are at the top of the league, so there's no reason why we can't be up there ourselves.

"The mindset at the club is that we are not here to make the numbers up. I think we all know deep down that if we finish where we are in the table now then it's been a good season, we do know that.

"But, we are striving for more. We're frustrated losing to a side in the top-three and we've been on the wrong end of single-goal defeats a lot this season. So, we're not going to just settle for where we are. We'll keep fighting and hopefully make it a successful end to the season."