Harrogate Town fill goalkeeper void with 'top-quality' former Derby County and Doncaster Rovers stopper
The Sulphurites have moved to sign former Derby County and Doncaster Rovers custodian Jonathan Mitchell on a short-term deal after discovering earlier this week that their first-choice stopper faces up to three months on the sidelines having ruptured a calf tendon.
With Pete Jameson on a season-long loan at Hartlepool United, the injury that Oxley suffered early in the second half of last weekend's 1-0 home defeat to Crewe Alexandra left rookie Lewis Thomas as the only goalkeeper at Weaver's disposal for the foreseeable future.
Hence Town felt compelled to delve into the free-transfer market, where they were able to come to an arrangement with a player who made 42 appearances for Yorkshire rivals Doncaster in League Two last term.
"I am delighted to have been able to bring Jonathan in. There were a few options out there, it's a bit different with goalkeepers when you're looking for a free agent, but it was a relief to be able to sign a player of this caliber at such short notice," Weaver said.
"He played 40-odd games in League Two last season, so we know he's got the ability and the experience of the level with plenty of games under his belt. And at 28, he's a really good age. His best years are most likely still ahead of him.
"His agent was really helpful and from first speaking to Jonathan, I could see that he was bang up for the challenge.
"He's arrived here in great shape. He's clearly been looking after himself and I know he's been doing a lot of cycling to keep himself fit as a fiddle. He came through all of our strength and conditioning tests in the gym and looked good when he joined in with training on Thursday.
“We need competition for places in every position. With Mark out, we needed to bring someone in as soon as possible. There were a few late nights for Lloyd Kerry, Paul Thirlwell, Phil Priestley and myself as we poured over the coverage we had available, and we believe we are signing a real top-quality keeper.“
A product of Newcastle United’s youth academy, Mitchell joined Derby County on a permanent deal in 2014. During his time with the Rams, he went on to enjoy loan spells with the likes of Luton Town, Shrewsbury Town and Northampton Town, for whom he turned out 35 times in League One in 2020/21.
After moving to Doncaster in 2022, Mitchell made more than 60 appearances for the club during an 18-month spell which ended this summer. He is contracted to Harrogate until the turn of the calendar year.
Speaking to Town's website, Mitchell said: “I am absolutely delighted to be here. It’s a move which came about quickly but now everything is sorted, I can’t wait to get going.
“Whenever you go into a new environment, you’re always looking to push and try to be as good as you can. If I can do that and get myself in the team then hopefully I can help the other lads around me as well.
“I’ve spoken to the gaffer, Phil Priestley and Paul Thirlwell and they have welcomed me with open arms and encouraged me to give it my all.”
Mitchell is available to make his debut for Harrogate when they visit non-league Marine in the FA Cup first round this Saturday (3pm).