Harrogate Town opinion: Covid-19, Storm Arwen and refereeing mistakes all in the space of a week

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton's latest weekly fan column.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 11:08 am
Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton, left, with his daughter Molly.

Although I wouldn’t place myself in the ‘if Town are playing I’ll be there, come hell, high water or Storm Arwen’ category, I certainly try to watch them as often as I can, life and work permitting

So the thought of missing four consecutive away matches, without at least going to one or two of them, doesn’t sit easily with me.

Of course, with Covid in the house, it can’t be helped. Just as my wife had started to mend, nine days after initially coming down with it, my daughter Molly returned a positive test.

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So we find ourselves back at square one, although having a teenager isolate in her room is a lot easier to facilitate, as that’s what they tend to do anyway.

I’m desperately trying not to catch it by doing all the right things, for blatantly obvious reasons, but also as I don’t want to miss the clash with League Two leaders Forest Green Rovers at Wetherby Road next Tuesday.

Thankfully, I received my booster jab two weeks ago now, so I’m hoping that’s making the difference. Only time will tell but, if you haven’t yet been vaccinated, I urge you to go and do the right thing for you and those around you.

Having tested negative, I’m allowed out and, let’s face it, social distancing amongst the 41 away fans at third-in-the-table Swindon wouldn’t have been the most difficult thing in the world to accomplish, but it’s the confined coach journey down there that I just can’t justify at the moment.

I missed a vintage Town performance, and the only reason we aren’t talking about another three points is down to a refereeing decision every bit as dire as the one at Hartlepool earlier in the season.

Swindon were one of those sides that were determined to play out from the back, no matter what, and it turns out they weren’t very good at it. Someone really ought to tell their manager.

Huge credit must go to Town for getting their tactics spot on: man-marking, forcing mistakes high up the pitch and giving their opponents no time or space to play out in a superb first half.

The major irony was that Harrogate’s 24th-minute goal came direct from one long Mark Oxley kick finding its way straight through to Jack Diamond.

Not that I want Town to be a long-ball side but, in this case, why play 30 passes when one will do?

It’s hard to believe that, having seen through the Swindon players trying to con him by diving in the area, referee Alan Young eventually bowed to crowd pressure by pointing to the spot after Jayden Mitchell-Lawson slipped just inside the 18yard line.

Oxley nearly got to the spot kick, but one-all it was.

Even though it was a result we’d have taken before kick-off, it was a Town defensive performance that deserved a second consecutive shut-out, so the circumstances of the equaliser left a slightly sour taste in the mouth.

Yet, the players clearly have nothing to fear from anyone in this division if they can play like they did at the County Ground.

It wasn’t only Covid wreaking havoc this weekend. Storm Arwen roared into town on Friday night and scuppered my backup plans to watch Harrogate Town Ladies take on top of the table

York City Ladies at Manse Lane in Knaresborough on the Sunday.

A waterlogged pitch had already led to the match being relocated to Rossett Sports Centre and I set off expectantly, only to arrive to the sight of half an inch of snow and a couple of snowmen on the pitch.

So, I had to drive disappointedly home to dismantle our mangled trampoline which had been rescued, at the height of the storm, from the top of next door’s car on the Friday evening. Oh joy.

It didn’t end there, as Tranmere lost the roof to one of their stands, causing the postponement of Town’s visit in the Papa John’s Trophy this Tuesday.

When we couldn’t play Rochdale in the Carabao Cup due to a Covid outbreak earlier in the season, Rochdale were given a bye to the next round.

No such joy here for Town though, as it looks as if we may have to travel to the Wirral on the Tuesday before the big Bradford City Boxing Day Clash.

Why the match wasn’t immediately switched to Wetherby Road or another ground after the damage on Friday night, is a question I can’t answer.