Town boss remains positive despite poor form

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver
Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver says that there is no need to panic following his side’s fifth successive defeat.

The men from the CNG Stadium slipped down to eighth position in the National League North standings after a 4-1 home loss to promotion rivals Darlington 1883 on Saturday.

Yet despite Town’s poor run, Weaver says there is no cause for alarm and is confident that his side will return to form once they get past the current injury crisis that is plaguing the club.

“We’ve had a tough sequence of fixtures against four of the strongest sides in this league in recent weeks,” Weaver said.

“We’re still eighth in the table and are three points off the play-offs, not in the relegation zone.

“We just have to grit our teeth, get our heads up and keep working hard.

“Things won’t stay like this, we can’t keep having the bad luck with the injuries, the deflected goals and refereeing decisions.

“Once we get two or three players back from injury, you’re looking at a different side.”

Although Saturday’s scoreline suggests that Town’s latest defeat was a comprehensive one, Weaver refused to get too downbeat about the result.

“It was always going to be difficult playing a team as good as Darlington when you’ve got to bring squad players and young lads in to the side, but I thought we did okay,” he added.

“It’s fine margins. We could have been lvel at 2-2 but Danny Ellis’ header was disallowed, and having looked at it again on the video, there doesn’t look to be much wrong with it to me.

“We’ve gone from that to being 3-1 down through a deflected goal a few minutes later, and then the sending off right at the start of the second half just killed it for us.

“We’ve missed two one-versus-once chances that we had to score, and they’ve taken their opportunities. That’s the difference.

“Credit to the lads for digging in with 10 men in the second period and making sure it didn’t get embarrassing for us.”

Kicking off the game once again missing a number of key personnel and facing in-form opponents who had scored no fewer than 16 times in their previous four outings, an already tough task got all the more difficult for Town with less than five minutes on the clock.

Darlo’s Josh Gillies whipped in a corner from the left that was cleared straight back to him and he was then afforded plenty of time to pick out the top corner of Peter Crook’s net with a right-footed curler.

Despite the early blow, the hosts showed plenty of fight, and were almost back on terms five minute after falling behind when Andi Thanoj’s fine free-kick was clawed away by visiting gloveman Pete Jameson.

Bradford City loanee Reece Webb-Foster then went one better, nodding Joe Colbeck’s cross past Jameson to tie the scores in the 32nd minute on his first start for the club.

Parity did not last long, however, and within seconds of scoring at one end, Weaver’s troops conceded at the other.

The Quakers raided down the left, and after Nathan Cartman’s initial effort was blocked, Mark Beck followed up to sidefoot home Darlo’s second of the afternoon.

Lewis Turner forced Jameson into a good save with his feet as Town pressed for a second equaliser, before Danny Ellis headed in a Thanoj free-kick, only for the ‘goal’ to be ruled out for a push on Darlo’s Terry Galbraith as the ball was delivered into the box.

Having come so close to getting back on terms, the hosts then suffered a hammer blow as they fell further behind on the stroke of half-time.

Stephen Thompson fired a low effort on goal from long-range that was helped past the despairing dive of Crook by a deflection off a home defender.

Any hopes of an unlikely comeback were extinguished just a couple of minutes after the re-start when Ellis was sent for an early bath after being shown a straight red card for a professional foul.

Former Harrogate Railway man Cartman had got behind the Town defence, only to be pulled down by the home skipper as he looked to run in on goal.

Weaver threw on Chib Chilaka and Joe Leesley from the bench in a bid to spark his side into life, but the game was ended as a contest in the 58th minute.

Substitute Dave Syers was freed up on the right corner of the penalty area and unleashed a strike across goal that Crook got a hand to, but could not keep out of the net.

With a one-man advantage and a three-goal cushion, the Quakers easily saw the game out, controlling possession in the closing half an hour as they cruised to a maximum-point haul.