Harrogate Town did not handle Hartlepool United's crowd at all well, laments Simon Weaver as he slams 'inept' defending

Simon Weaver does not feel that his Harrogate Town players handled the Hartlepool United crowd at all well as they threw away a two-goal lead at the Victoria Ground.

Sunday, 24th October 2021, 1:59 pm
Updated Sunday, 24th October 2021, 6:54 pm
Hartlepool United supporters celebrate Saturday's 3-2 League Two success over Harrogate Town. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

Leading 2-0 through a George Thomson strike and Neill Byrne's own goal, the Sulphurites conceded three times in the space of seven minutes at the start of the second period and failed to recover.

More than 5,500 home fans erupted into life when David Ferguson halved the deficit on 52 minutes, that ferocious outpouring of emotion from the stands creating an atmosphere which the visiting team appeared to struggle to cope with as the game began to slip away from them.

And Weaver insisted that his charges must learn to deal with such situations much better if they are serious about trying to challenge for promotion to League One.

Simon Weaver watches on at the Victoria Ground from inside his technical area.

"Hartlepool got a massive lift from their fans, were energised by them and they took their chances while a few of our lads went in their shells, unfortunately," the Harrogate boss said.

"The support is great here. They don’t half get behind their team and it is a big advantage, as you can see when you look at their home form compared to their away form.

“It makes a big difference, but we have to be able to handle it and handle the occasion.

“We’ve got to be better than that if we want to be really successful - and it would be a real success if we went up again. There are bigger stadiums than this."

Mark Cullen's header saw Pools level matters within 60 seconds of Ferguson pulling one back, then Matty Daly turned the game on its head in the 59th minute, leaving Weaver to reflect on a second-half showing that he found plenty wrong with.

“We looked punch-drunk, which is ridiculous really. We’d played some sophisticated stuff in the first half, we were right on it," he added.

“But to get consistent results we have to be able to repeat that in the second half.

“We pressed correctly in the first half and as we normally do, but it took until the 83rd minute for us to do that in the second. We pressed in their half of the field, stole the ball, and that’s us. So maybe that’s down to a lack of energy.

“But, for the three goals, it is awful defending. It just looked sloppy. It was inept. We didn’t stop balls into the box and didn’t track runners.

“The level we are at now, we have to stop crosses into the box and we have to be able to defend those balls if they do come into the penalty area. They were simple balls in for their first two goals.”

Town's defeat, their second in three matches in the space of a week, sees them drop down from second place to fifth in the League Two standings.