Harrogate Town v Newport County: Current crop are "best characters" Simon Weaver has ever worked with

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver says his current crop are the “best group of characters” he has ever had the pleasure of working with.

Friday, 10th September 2021, 11:02 am
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver and captain Josh Falkingham celebrate. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites entertain Newport County on Friday evening aiming to extend their unbeaten start to 2021/22 into a seventh game as they bid to open up a three-point gap at the top of League Two.

That they lead the way, even at this early stage of the campaign, will have come as a surprise to many, though Weaver insists that he realised pretty quickly this summer that he had assembled a good bunch.

Asked if there was anything in particular that stood out about his new-look squad as regards their fast start, he replied: “Before a ball was even kicked, I said that this was the best group of players I’ve had, the best characters.

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Luke Armstrong's goal against Mansfield Town last time out was his fourth in Harrogate Town colours since his arrival at the club this summer.

“All the pieces of the jigsaw are there in terms of the character. There’s nobody permanently on their phone or anyone sat separate from the group like there was at times last season.

“Don’t get me wrong, there were no bad characters here last year – we wouldn’t even have had them in the building – but this time everyone is really engaging with one another and there is a great energy about them.

“I feel really pleased to come into work every day and see them. We are in a good place both on and off the pitch.”

Some excellent transfer business during the close-season has, without question, also been significant. Striker Luke Armstong and midfielder Alex Pattison have shone, scoring four and three goals respectively, while goalkeeper Mark Oxley and centre-half Rory McArdle have added both presence and experience in the defensive third.

“That extra quality we’ve brought in has absolutely made a difference,” added Weaver.

“You’ve seen it in the performances and the results and I also think it’s driven standards up. You can see that all the lads are buzzing off the capabilities of their team-mates.

"You've got your goalkeeper [Oxley] producing big moments, coming through loads of bodies to get to balls into his box. That gives the players in front of him confidence.

"The drive of Alex Pattison in midfield has added something we didn't have before. Luke Armstrong has that presence up front and he's so dangerous inside the box, he's lifted a weight off Jack Muldoon's shoulders.

"But, it's been a team effort, they've all played their part. From Lloyd Kerry dropping on those second balls to the way Josh Falkingham leads them. Everyone is doing their bit and I think that the way they're all buzzing off each other has created real energy. It's exciting."