Harrogate Town opinion: Things looking rosy again as Sulphurites right Hillsborough wrongs

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

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 9:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 9:36 pm
Simon Power celebrates after firing Harrogate Town into the lead at Walsall. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Perching two-thirds of the way up a ladder whilst balancing a tin of high performance liquid rubber paint isn’t the best place to be celebrating a Simon Power free-kick hitting the back of the Walsall net, but I’ll take it all the same

Much as I’d love to be swanning off to the West Midlands to witness it first hand, devotees of this column will remember that I originally abandoned the job of painting the guttering three weeks ago in favour of a last-minute dash up the A19 to Hartlepool. And look how that turned out.

Having stripped the guttering to bare, rotting wood before I left for County Durham, it’s annoyingly rained nearly every day since. This weekend promised two days of dry weather, so it was now or never as winter closed in, as I didn’t fancy having to pay someone to replace rotten woodwork next spring.

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton, left, with his daughter Molly.

So there I was, coating my leaky guttering, whilst BBC Radio York commentator Barry Parker serenaded the entire street from the blaring car radio down below. Let’s call it payback for all the noisy builders the residents have had in over lockdown.

I had considered tuning into the television pictures via Town’s streaming service, but figured taking my iPad up the ladder and perching it on the guttering may be a step too far, and certainly not a good example to set my daughter in terms of looking after electrical devices.

It’s not only me with gaps to plug of course: Town have their own leaky defence to fix following Sheffield Wednesday’s second team running a coach and horses through it in midweek.

That 4-0 defeat was made all the worse by the fact that I missed the high point of Town’s attackers taking the game to Wednesday in the first half, as I’d failed to realise that the game started 45 minutes earlier than usual and kicked-off at 7pm.

It was indeed a wake-up call, and it felt like the defence let Simon Weaver down on his proud return to Hillsborough. I felt for him, but at least if you’re going to ship four goals, let it be in a meaningless cup game where both teams have already qualified for the next round.

So credit must go to Simon and the players for learning the lessons from Sheffield, and turning in the almost perfect away performance at Walsall.

It had everything Hillsborough didn’t – clinical finishing in front of goal and defensive solidity, shutting out the Saddlers like Bristol Rovers shut us out couple of weeks ago.

Yes, I know our hosts scored a consolation goal, but by then the damage had already been well and truly inflicted. Solid attacking performances are built from the back, and so it transpired here.

George Thomson has put in a shift this season, and can be considered unlucky to find himself on the bench, but Power has truly earned a starting place in the team this last couple of weeks, since coming on as substitute and running Wrexham ragged. I’m pleased for him after his lightning start in the first game of the season prior to being hit by Covid.

The failed experiment of 4-3-3 from the week before was ditched in favour of the usual 4-4-2, but with lightning pace on both wings in the form of the aforementioned Power and Jack Diamond, there was no need for the full-backs to leave gaps whilst racing forward on the overlap.

The team defended as a solid unit across the pitch out of possession, safe in the knowledge that the attacking threat was there when the chance arose.

And arose beautifully it did for the second goal, with Diamond racing clear from one simple ball on the half-way line to drill home the second through the keeper’s despairing dive.

Listening at home, as Barry got over-excited and started shouting down the street, I was taken by the amount of abuse Walsall fans in the stand around him were giving the officials for not calling Diamond offside, even though it transpired he’d run from inside his own half when the pass was made. I hold that as a testament to how fast our Sunderland-loanee can be.

Mercifully, we had a different linesman to the one who flagged him ‘offside’ at Hartlepool.

All that was needed was for Luke Armstrong to mark his return to the first team with a trademark near-post goal from some great approach play, and for me not to fall off the ladder in celebration, as Town leapfrogged back into contention in the midst of the play-off places.

One win, and things are certainly looking rosy again this week.