Harrogate Town opinion: Weeks of struggle all-but forgotten after positive display

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

By Rhys Howell
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:03 am
Updated Thursday, 28th April 2022, 9:05 am
Harrogate Town supporters Dave and Molly Worton outside the EnviroVent Stadium.

It’s a sea of smiling faces in the Wetherby Road stand as an energetic Harrogate Town side, boosted by the return of Alex Pattison, pretty much dictate the first half against a Carlisle United team with nothing much to play for.

My daughter Molly has been on her feet working for seven hours right up to kick-off and she’s due to arrive late, so I send her details of my location near the away dug-out. My phone rings at 0-0.

“Hi Mo, I’ve messaged you with my location, where are you?” I bellow over the crowd noise.

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“Yes I know, I’ve seen it. Is it worth me coming, or are we going to lose again?” is the response of a tired daughter.

“No, it’s definitely worth you coming, it’s a good match and we are playing really well.”

Town, look at what the last few weeks have done to my daughter...

By the time she arrives, we’re two up. The first goal’s a classic way to play into the wind, as Jack Diamond skips past two challenges on the half-way line, passes low inside to Pattison, who works it quickly out wide to George Thomson.

Thomson swings a lovely ball into the centre of the penalty area, it holds up slightly in the wind and Diamond arrives to dink a delicate header over the caught-in-two-minds Carlisle goalkeeper.

The second is also the result of a dangerous, curling cross into the area, Thomson again utilising the wind direct from a free-kick, as Rory McArdle stoops to head in on the edge of the six-yard-box.

Our visitors, on the other hand, struggle with the breeze in their favour, comically lofting long passes to their left-winger time and time again, only to see the ball race away unerringly into touch.

You’d have thought they’d have realised after the first couple of attempts, and adapted their tactics, but no. Ironic home cheers meet their first limp shot on target a minute from half-time.

I fear Carlisle may have more joy against the elements in the second period, and so it transpires, although the Town defence stands firm in preserving the two-goal cushion.

We briefly go into Carlisle first-half mode, but a more-measured chip forward by Josh Austerfield 20 minutes in signals a turning point, as we finally come to grips with playing with the wind.

From then on in the match turns into a glorious end-to-end display of open football on a beautiful afternoon. Such occasions are always a joy to behold, particularly with Town creating the better chances.

Joe Cracknell caps his best display in the Harrogate goal with a flying save to his right, bookended by Jack Muldoon smacking the underside of the crossbar and Diamond completing a smooth one-two with Pattison before slotting home our third in injury-time.

It’s been a tough few weeks, but that’s all forgotten today as we join our visitors on 50 points for the season.

We’ve witnessed a vintage Sulphurites performance, with plenty of attacking flair and energy in a well-balanced formation, and young Huddersfield loanee Austerfield enjoying life in the busy holding role so dominated in recent years by Josh Falkingham.

We mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we do have a number of very useful players in our squad, and this performance will have given Simon Weaver pause for thought.

Our summer activity needs to reflect this by strengthening and building on this central core. Even though changes are required, there’s no need to resort to a year zero clear-out, to do that would be folly.

So having stated last week that I couldn’t see where another point was coming from, and almost wishing the season to end, I’m pleased to report that the Town players proved me completely wrong and that it’s still a fool’s errand to attempt to predict a football match. Bring on Forest Green Rovers!