Harrogate Town's 'atrocious' defending is holding the club back, blasts Simon Weaver
Simon Weaver believes that Harrogate Town’s defensive failings are preventing his side from progressing to the next level.
The Sulphurites spent the opening weeks of 2021/22 challenging at the top end of League Two, but have slipped down the table following a poor run of recent form.
Slack play, lapses in concentration and a lack of assertiveness in and around their own penalty area have been their main issues, with Weaver growing increasingly frustrated and concerned by the disparity between his team’s potency going forwards and their inability to keep the back door shut.
Things came to a head after Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, where Harrogate caused their League One hosts all sorts of problems with their attacking play only to ship four soft goals at the other end despite "not being under concerted pressure at any stage".
Weaver dished out a post-match dressing down to his back-line in the away dressing room at Hillsborough, before going on to brand their efforts in that game as an “embarrassment”.
Unsurprisingly, he is demanding that his defenders shape up ahead of Saturday’s League Two trip to Walsall.
“It’s come to a point now where the defensive side is preventing us kicking on now when we’re so exciting going forwards," he said.
“The disparity is worrying. We have got very good attacking players who could take us to another level, but we’re getting beaten by one ball. We were in the ascendancy in the first half on Tuesday night but we find ourselves 1-0 down because we don’t pick up in the box. It was atrocious defending.
"Then we're racing out from the back when there's no pressure on the ball in front of them and that’s why we are where we are.
“It evens itself out in a league where we create so many chances and score so many goals, but defensively we open the door because of rash decisions.
“We’ve got to mature, this is the next phase now and it gets to a point where we’ve got to think. We’re not engaging our brains and we’re not being brave enough in our box, and that is what is keeping us out of the top-three at the minute.”
Asked what he can do to remedy these recurring defensive problems, Weaver explained that his players are doing the business on the training ground but said he is expecting an emotional reaction to the rollicking he issued in midweek.
“They do it in training, but you’re judged as a footballer when points are at stake or it’s a competitive match," he added.
“We’re showing them on the training ground. We can be nice and keep on encouraging, like we do, but it’s preventing us from kicking on.
“Somewhere along the line there has to be a bit of anger or a reaction to me having a go at them [at Hillsborough] and to me being upset, whether it’s ‘oh, I owe you one’ or ‘I owe the lads one’.
"Sometimes people just have to mature, stop sulking, playing the victim. If we defend better, we win games like Sheffield Wednesday.
“If you want to win, you’ve got to have passion, that's why I'm reacting like this, why I am so angry, because I'm passionate about what we're doing."