Harrogate Town v Rochdale AFC: Simon Weaver hoping fans gets behind new goalkeeper Mark Oxley
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver is hopeful that the club’s supporters get behind new goalkeeper Mark Oxley.
The 30-year-old joined the Sulphurites from Southend United this summer and was handed fans’ favourite James Belshaw’s number one shirt.
The latter subsequently left Wetherby Road to sign for League Two rivals Bristol Rovers, a development which was met by disappointment by a large section of Harrogate’s fan-base.
With Oxley having endured some difficult moments during pre-season, Weaver has picked up on a sense of hostility towards his new recruit and has urged supporters to give the player a fair crack of the whip.
“I hope people get behind our new goalkeeper,” he said, speaking ahead of Saturday's season-opener at home to Rochdale.
“I know a lot of the fans were disappointed to see Belly leave, but it’s not Mark Oxley’s fault that I made the decision to change things and bring him into the club.
“Mark is a really good lad and he’s come here wanting to do well for Harrogate. Like any new player coming into a team he needs time and he needs to be given the chance to prove himself.
“He’s a good keeper. You don’t play as many games in the Football League as he has if you’re not. Yes, Southend have had a bad couple of years, but he’s played regularly.
"Which is the first position that gets looked at when a team is struggling and conceding a lot of goals? It’s the goalkeeper, and he’s kept getting picked so I don’t know how much can be read into the fact that he’s come from a team that has been relegated two years on the bounce.”
On Belshaw’s departure to sign for Joey Barton’s Rovers, Weaver added: “I got in touch with Belly after his move went through and just said ‘thanks for all the great performances you gave us’.
“He’s a legend for what he’s done for our club and I hope he becomes number one at Bristol Rovers.
“Football is a game of opinion and at the end of the day it’s just my opinion that we needed to strengthen in the goalkeeping department.”