Harrogate Town's defeat at Hartlepool United further evidence that Sulphurites have become a 'soft touch defensively'

Simon Weaver fears that Harrogate Town have become a “soft touch defensively.”

Monday, 25th October 2021, 10:50 am
Harrogate Town's players react after Matty Daly, left, fires Hartlepool United into a 3-2 lead. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites surrendered a two-goal interval lead at Hartlepool United on Saturday, conceding three times in the space of seven second-half minutes on their way to a 3-2 defeat.

They began the weekend second in League Two and remain the division’s most prolific side, but they have also conceded more than anyone else inside the top half of the table.

And Saturday’s game wasn’t the first time that Harrogate’s defensive failings have cost them this term.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.

“These lads, we have stayed loyal and we had a cracking start to the season, but the stats don’t lie, we concede goals,” Weaver said.

“We are a bit of a soft touch defensively. People can play through us too easily and that’s due to a lack of organisation. We had it in the first half, but can we do it consistently with that level of concentration? That’s the question.

“If you go through all the goals that have been scored against us, there’s not many worldies or 10-pass moves. It’s simple balls into the box and we are fragile.

"We’ve had a lot of success and these are great lads with a lot of energy, but we need more of an edge.”

George Thomson’s 28th-minute strike and a Neill Byrne own goal on 35 minutes put Harrogate in control at the Victoria Ground, but three goals in quick succession from David Ferguson, Mark Cullen and Matt Daly saw Pools turn the game on its head early in the second half.

Weaver went on to describe the way his team defended after the interval as "awful" and "inept" but he was equally as troubled by the way that some of his players appeared to wither as Pool and their 5,500 supporters cranked up the pressure.

“In my opinion, that last few away games, starting at Port Vale, when things have got a bit hot, we’ve had a few lads go quiet," he added.

“A few went quiet on Saturday and I think it’s a true test of character in situations like this.

“I always think it’s an opportunity for players to really stand up and go ‘right, I’m the man to settle this down’ and start winning a few challenges, putting the ball in areas and get us up the pitch. But, on this occasion, nobody stood up."

Saturday's defeat was Harrogate's second in the space of a week and sees them drop from second place in the League Two standings and down to fifth position.