Harrogate Town reaping their rewards after developing 'winning habit'

Harrogate Town are reaping the rewards having prioritised points over performances during the busy festive period, according to Lloyd Kerry.

Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 7:16 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th January 2020, 7:17 pm
Midfielder Lloyd Kerry celebrates after finding the net against Hartlepool United, the first of two goals that he has scored for Harrogate Town in recent weeks. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The Wetherby Road outfit won three out of three between Christmas and New Year and have carried that form into 2020.

A 1-0 home win over Maidenhead United lifted them up to third place in the National League standings, just three points behind leaders Barrow.

They then sank Darlington on Saturday to seal their progess into the third round of the FA Trophy, finishing the match with a fourth consecutive clean-sheet.

“The Christmas period is so important that we just needed to get the points on the board. It didn’t really matter how we did it,” Kerry said.

“It was the results that we were focused on and winning becomes a habit.

“We’ve got that winning mentality now and we’re carrying that into games.

“Our away form wasn’t very good until we went to Chorley and ground that result out. Since then we’ve won two more away from home and not conceded a goal in four matches.

“It’s not been very pretty. It wasn’t at Darlington on Saturday or against Maidenhead in the last home game, but we’ve been professional, we’ve made ourselves harder to play against and, most importantly we’re getting the results.

“We’ve got ourselves into a great position in the league and just need to keep doing what we’ve been doing these last few weeks.”

Having taken a break from their promotion push, last weekend’s 2-0 Trophy success over Darlington set up a third-round tie with fellow National League side Eastleigh on February 8.

And with Town now one of the highest-ranked sides left in the competition, Kerry believes that a first-ever Wembley appearance has become very real possibility.

“It was a good result at Darlington and we’ve got the home draw that we wanted,” he added.

“Our home record speaks for itself and we fancy ourselves on our own ground. If we can beat Eastleigh in the next round then it really opens up for us.

“This is a great opportunity to go and play at Wembley, and not too many footballers at our level get the chance to do that.

“That’s definitely the aim. That’s what we want to do.”

Kerry himself played a big part in Harrogate’s win over National League North Darlington, sealing his team’s progress when he rifled home a superb effort from outside the box.

“I enjoyed the goal, I was really happy with the strike. I’ve not scored one like that in quite a while,” he said.

“I saw Tommo [George Thomson] screaming for the ball on the outside, but as I drove forwards the Darlington centre-backs just kept dropping. In the end, one of them made my mind up for me when he took a step towards Tommo, which opened up the space for me, so I hit it.

“The gaffer has put a bit of pressure on me and Josh Falkingham to try and contribute more goals from midfield.

“He said that to us before the Hartlepool game on Boxing Day and we both ended up scoring in that one and I’ve gone on and got another.

“I’ve always thought of myself as a box-to-box midfielder and although my role is a bit different now it’s obviously pleasing to help out with goals.”

While Kerry has been contributing in an attacking sense in recent weeks, it has been his work in the middle of the park that has really stood out since his return to Town’s starting line-up in early December.

“My main role is to get on the second balls, get the ball back for the team and get us playing and I think it is an important one,” he added.

“Someone has got to do the ugly side of the game and I feel like I’ve slotted in quite nicely next to Josh since I came back into the side.

“We can both play that role, but me trying to put myself about and give the back-four that extra bit of protection frees him up to go and try and dictate the game.

“I think we work quite well as a pairing and I think the results are there to back that up.”