Harrogate Town's James Belshaw 'proud' of personal milestone but focused only on play-off push

Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw. Picture: Matt Kirkham

James Belshaw recently clocked up his 100th appearance in a Harrogate Town shirt.

Given that he hasn’t even been at the club for two full seasons yet, playing a century of games is no mean feat.

Sadly for the 28- year-old goalkeeper, he wasn’t able to celebrate that milestone with a victory, a clean-sheet or even a point as Town lost out 1-0 to Boreham Wood at the CNG Stadium.

“It was very disappointing, I’ve watched the game back on the video and we just weren’t at it,” he said of Saturday’s defeat to opponents who came into the contest just two places above the relegation zone.

“From one to 11 we weren’t good enough and gave away a sloppy goal from a set-piece.

“None of us were happy with the outcome and it’s obviously not howe I wanted my 100th game to end.”

Although proud to have made a century of appearances, Belshaw insists that individual honours are of no real interest to him at this stage of the season, stressing that the only thing he is currently focused on is helping the club secure a National League play-off spot.

“I’m proud that I’ve played 100 games here already. I’ve managed to stay fit and done enough to keep my place in the team, which is really pleasing,” he added.

“It’s a nice personal milestone, of course it it, but at this time of year, all that matters is getting points on the board. We want to finish in a play-off spot. That’s the aim.

“We don’t want to finish in the top seven by default, we want to be there on merit, by getting some results from our next three games.

“We need that momentum as well. Just making the play-offs isn’t enough. We want to go on from there and get promoted.

“If we went up again, with almost the same squad that was promoted from National League North last season, it would be one of the biggest achievements in football.”

Belshaw concedes that Town have a tough run-in, starting with a trip to top-of-the-table Leyton Orient on Good Friday, but says that both he and his team-mates are confident of picking enough points to ensure they cement their place in the division’s top seven.

“We’ve got three really tough games left to play, and if you look at it on paper you’d probably rather be Ebbsfleet [currently eighth in the table, five points behind Town] when you look at their fixtures,” he said.

“It’s not a given that we’ll finish in the play-off places, we need another four points , but we’ll go at these last three all guns blazing.

“We’ve not been at our best in recent weeks but the lads are genuinely still upbeat in that changing room and we believe in ourselves.

“We got off to a great start and have done so well, we don’t want to look back at the end of our careers and think ‘we nearly made it’.”

Friday’s clash with title-chasing Orient has been selected for live TV coverage by BT Sport, meaning that Town will play in front of cameras for the fourth time this season.

“This is the sort of game you want to be involved in, going to a place like Leyton Orient with their stadium and set-up,” Belshaw continued

“If you’re not excited as a player at the prospect of a fixture like this then I think you’re in the wrong business.

“They need the three points, so we know they’ll attack us, but we need those points just as badly. It should make for a really good game.

“The bookies will make Orient the favourites, but we don’t mind being the underdogs. Either way, we’re still going there with a game-plan and to try and win.”