Harrogate Town v Carlisle United: Sulphurites not daunted by tough run, insists James Belshaw

Harrogate Town head into a difficult run of fixtures high in confidence following their Boxing Day success at Oldham Athletic, according to goalkeeper James Belshaw.

By Rhys Howell
Monday, 28th December 2020, 7:31 pm
Updated Monday, 28th December 2020, 7:48 pm
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites entertain high-flying Carlisle United on Tuesday evening, the first test in a five-match sequence which pits them against the sides currently sat third, fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth in League Two.

Daunting though the next few weeks may seem on paper for a team who have lost five of their last seven, Belshaw insists that there is no sense of apprehension in the Town dressing room ahead of upcoming showdowns with Cheltenham, Cambridge, Exeter and Salford.

"We've got a very tough run of games coming up, but we've proved that we compete with anyone in this league. We've got results against good sides already, so we're not fearful in any way," the 30-year-old told the Harrogate Advertiser.

Two goals from George Thomson, right, fired Town to a 2-1 triumph over Oldham Athletic on Boxing Day.

"Carlisle is going to be a very difficult one, all of the next five are, to be fair, so that performance and result at Oldham came at a really good time. I think we needed that win.

"We controlled almost the whole game, and Oldham barely created a single chance against us - apart from the penalty they scored - but the biggest thing was the amount of opportunities we had.

"We've not been creating enough in some of our more recent games, but on Saturday we scored two very good goals and had loads of chances, five or six inside the first 10 or 15 minutes. It was definitely a confidence-booster."

As good as their 2-1 victory over the Latics was last time out, Belshaw and his team-mates know that Carlisle will provide an even sterner examination of their Football League credentials.

The Cumbrians currently find themselves just two points off top-spot and will arrive in North Yorkshire knowing that a win could see them take over at the summit.

They were held to a 3-3 draw by Bolton Wanderers on Saturday and lost out 1-0 to fellow title-hopefuls Forest Green Rovers last week, but had won four on the bounce prior to that narrow defeat.

"Carlisle are a very good side. We've looked at them and we know they'll look to load the box, deliver the ball from wide areas and they've got a threat with a long throw-in," Harrogate's number one added.

"They're dangerous at set-pieces and scored a very clever set-piece goal against Bolton in their last game. We know that it is going to be important to try and limit the amount of deliveries that they put into our penalty area.

"Because they're a big powerful team we need to stand up and be counted. It will be a really tough task, but one I know that the lads will relish."

Kick-off at the EnviroVent Stadium on Tuesday evening is at 7.45pm.