Harrogate Town may be safe from relegation from League Two, but squad overhaul is now required

Harrogate Town may have done just about enough this term to extend their stay in the Football League by another year, but manager Simon Weaver has conceded that the nucleus of the squad which got them there has taken the club as far as it can.

By Rhys Howell
Tuesday, 19th April 2022, 4:20 pm
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites suffered a fourth consecutive League Two defeat - their eighth in 10 matches - when they went down 3-0 at Northampton on Easter Monday.

That result dropped them down to 20th position in the division, though they remain 10 points clear of second-from-bottom Oldham Athletic, who lost 2-0 to Forest Green Rovers.

And with just three games of 2021/22 remaining, there is no now danger of the Latics being able to overhaul Town regardless of what happens between now and the end of the campaign.

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Despite losing the game 3-0, Harrogate Town discovered at the conclusion of Easter Monday's League Two clash at Northampton that they were safe from relegation.

But, with Weaver's side's shortcomings having been exposed on a worryingly regular basis during the second two-thirds of a season which began in such promising fashion, a changing of the guard looks to be on the cards this summer.

Eight members of the squad that was promoted out of National League North back in 2018 remain on the club's books, with seven of those players having featured in League Two this term, while a further four of Harrogate's current crop played in the National League.

"League status has been confirmed, which from the club's point of view, we've now stayed up two years on the bounce which goes towards establishing ourselves as a Football League club," Weaver said.

"But, the next stage, this summer will be huge for us in terms of recruitment. It comes to a point now where that cycle and adrenaline of what got us up has probably worn off a bit.

"There's still great camaraderie, they're still a motivated bunch and great lads and they have got us here, so we don't want to beat them with a stick because we still have the nucleus of the team from Conference North and the National League, but it is time to evolve.

"They all gave it their best shot and that's why we are at this level, because we've got a good group of people who have given everything.

"It [Town's current squad] has had it's life-span, not all of them, but in terms of what got us here, it might not get us up to the next level."

And, although disappointed by Town's recent form and the way they have limped over the finish line, relieved Weaver says he is excited by the prospect of this summer's rebuild.

"I'm so glad that the positive from today is that we get another shot at it next year," he added following Easter Monday's loss to Northampton.

"It's not a Wycombe story or Sheffield United story where they go up twice in quick succession and then go back down.

"Obviously we are hurting because of defeats on the bounce, it's hard, but we've got to be steely, gritty, get over it, not play the victim and come back strong.

"I'm already excited about the plans that we've been drawing up. We are going to have a busy summer."