Harrogate Town 1 Halifax 2: Weaver demands bravery from players in the wake of Boxing Day disappointment

Simon Weaver looks on from the sideline during Harrogate Town's home loss to Halifax. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Simon Weaver looks on from the sideline during Harrogate Town's home loss to Halifax. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Two things were noticeably different to normal in the aftermath of Harrogate Town's Boxing Day defeat to Halifax.

Firstly, was the amount of time that boss Simon Weaver kept his players in the dressing room for their post-match debrief, the longest I can recall in quite some while.

Secondly was Weaver's demeanour after emerging to address the waiting press.

I've seen him angry, irritated and disappointed, but on this occasion he visibly bristled with what I think can be best described as agitation.

Of course he was going to be upset, he'd just witnessed his team surrender a winning position for the second game in succession.

Town were so much better than Halifax during the first half, yet didn't turn up in the second.

Yet, the main reason for his frustration stemmed from his players' lack of bravery on the ball after half-time as the Shaymen upped the ante and started to get in their faces.

"We've lost out because we've become embroiled in a physical battle, which isn't our strength, and haven't committed to playing passing football," he said.

"First half, yeah, we ticked the boxes, players got on it [the ball] and enjoyed it, but then second half a few went missing.

"We've got to commit to the game-plan. If you go off-plan it becomes boring to watch. 'Smash it, it's a typical derby, let's hide behind that', well that's not our way.

"We've got to get the ball down and play. You might have to have the ball in tight situations, you might be the one that loses it but I want people to ask that question rather than turning their backs and not wanting it so it gets smashed forwards.

"We've got to step up in terms of bravery and commit to playing our way, where we are fluent."

It was not just the lack of willingness to get on the ball and pass to feet during the second period that bothered Weaver.

The fact that his players also seemed to "run out of steam" led to him questioning whether some had over-indulged on Christmas Day, as well as apologising to the Town supporters.

"We're one of the fittest teams in the league and normally we can run and run and run, but I've ended up making substitutions because people have run out of steam, which they shouldn't do," he added.

"I hate to say it because I trust every individual, but it looks as if too many people had eaten too much yesterday [Christmas Day].

"We didn't have them in [for training], some teams did, because it's trust.

"It's disappointing for all the fans that turned up and I can understand why we got a really quiet reception after the game.

"I'm sorry for the second half performance."

Weaver admitted that his charges received a dressing down after the final whistle, his explanation for why possibly the clearest indicator of why he was so hurt by Wednesday's result.

"There were some strong words said because I care. We all sacrifice a lot," he continued.

"We want to grow and do something unthinkable. I'm not embarrassed to say that I'd love to go to up again.

"I'd love to see us all succeed again and keep going forwards as a club, but we're not going to do it if we're full of contradictions in terms of the way we play.

"The players have to grow and take a step forwards when perhaps it's easier to take a step back when you're close to fighting for top spot."