Weaver urges Harrogate Town players to bat on through slump in form

Simon Weaver
Simon Weaver

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver has urged his toiling squad to grasp the responsibility and arrest their end of season dip.

Town have collected just three points from their last six matches and fell to one of their heaviest defeats of the season in losing the Yorkshire derby at Bradford Park Avenue 3-1 on Bank Holiday Monday.

Liam Hearn remains an injury doubt with a hip flexor problem

Liam Hearn remains an injury doubt with a hip flexor problem

That defeat followed a feisty 1-1 draw against midtable Curzon Ashton on Saturday and saw Town fall 17 points behind champions-elect Solihull Moors.

However, Weaver’s fourth-place men remain well-positioned for a play-off place. They still hold a five-point gap to Nuneaton Town in sixth.

But Weaver admitted the slide in form required a fast turnaround to ensure a gap remained to the chasing pack.

He said: “For 30 weeks of the season, 28 weeks have been all good. We have had occasional defeats but not back to back results like these.

Harrogate Town's Joe Colbeck filled in at right back for Lewis Turner at the weekend

Harrogate Town's Joe Colbeck filled in at right back for Lewis Turner at the weekend

“I can only compare it to when you’re playing medal golf and you’re on the 16th and thinking about how good a run you’ve had.

“A few players have been aware of that. With Solihull playing those three games when we didn’t and pulling out that gap, suddenly people can be a bit fearful of things not happening and not being in the play-offs.

“It’s just human nature. When it has been a successful season people can be a bit too aware of themselves and not stay in the moment.

In their poor run of form, Town have found the net just twice courtesy of a Brendon Daniels penalty and 40-yard wonder strike.

Weaver admitted the lack of goals is a growing concern but he insisted the club’s 4-4-2 system employed throughout the year had not been worked out by league counterparts.

He added: “Everyone has had a dip. Fylde, Ferriby, Nuneaton and Tamworth. We are all battling for our place to stay in there.

“Sometimes footballers have to play their way through a dip. In cricket, some of the best players in the world have to just keep on batting and keep their head up when all around them is struggling.

“Something will happen, whether it’s a deflection or a soft goal. The lads just need to be a bit more selfish in front of goal.

“We just have to try and think about our next game and not focus on the frustration and the dip.

“I certainly don’t want people to think we don’t want to go up. Everyone is working their socks off to do so. I don’t think anybody can say my team have lacked commitment.”

Strikers Dominic Knowles (illness) and Liam Hearn (injury) remain doubts ahead of this week’s home double bill against Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday and Lowestoft Town on Saturday.

Lewis Turner could return after an injection to fix tendinitis in his knee.

Knowles battled through a chest infection during the Curzon draw and has been taking antibiotics since.

Weaver added: “He’s desperate to get back in but I need him to come back fully fit. He is a player that can make a difference and we need the big players to stand up.”