Harrogate Town not taking Marine AFC 'lightly' and plan to field 'strong' side in FA Cup first-round tie

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver says he has no intention of taking FA Cup first-round opponents Marine “lightly” this Saturday, and will select a side accordingly.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The League Two Sulphurites travel to Merseyside to tackle opponents who play their football three tiers lower down the pyramid in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, but have previous when it comes to causing an upset in what is the world’s oldest national football competition.

As recently as the 2020/21 season, Marine stunned Colchester United as they reached the third round where they were eventually knocked out by a Tottenham Hotspur side featuring Gareth Bale and Dele Alli.

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This term, they have already seen off National League North promotion-hopefuls Spennymoor Town and National League FC Halifax Town, whom they beat 1-0 away from home in the previous round to set up their showdown with Harrogate.

And Weaver has no interest in seeing his own team added to that list of notable scalps.

“I’ve looked at plenty of coverage of Marine and they have some good players, so we are preparing ourselves for a tough examination,” he told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“They’ve already beaten Halifax in the previous round, so there’s no chance of us taking them lightly. We’ve caused a few upsets in our time, and on occasion it’s been because opponents haven’t taken us seriously, so we know that can happen when a team does that.

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“You can get knocked off your perch if you’re not at it. So we owe it to ourselves to make sure that our attitude is right, and in doing that, we’ll give ourselves the best chance of building on our run of three consecutive away wins, and progressing into the next round.

“The FA Cup is a competition that we are determined to do well in. So Saturday will be very much a case of going as strong as we can in terms of the line-up because we want to win the tie.”

Weaver has confirmed that right-back Tony Sims should be fit enough to return at Marine, however left-back Liam Gibson and striker Josh March probably won’t be ready.

And goalkeeper Mark Oxley will definitely miss out having ruptured a calf tendon during Harrogate’s League Two defeat to Crewe last weekend.

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With the 33-year-old set to be sidelined for up to three months, Weaver has wasted no time bringing in former Doncaster Rovers stopper Jonathan Mitchell.

The 28-year-old, who has been a free agent since the end of last season, has signed a short-term deal with the Sulphurites which will keep him at Wetherby Road until the end of 2023.