Harrogate Town's draw at Crawley shows they need to 'mature' defensively, says Simon Weaver
"Proud" though he was of Harrogate Town's overall performance at Crawley on Tuesday night, Simon Weaver said his team need to "mature" defensively.
The Sulphurites created more than enough chances to have come away from Sussex with all three points, but conceded twice in the space of two minutes to end a first half which they had enjoyed the better of 2-1 down.
And although they got themselves back on terms early in the second period, they ultimately had to settle for just a share of the spoils - despite the Red Devils being reduced to 10 men on 65 minutes.
Having made a superb start to the season and taken 13 points from the first 15 on offer, Town are now without a win in three League Two outings having conceded twice in each of those matches.
Thus, Weaver left Broadfield insisting that his team have to address their shortcomings at the back.
"It's a shame that we didn't turn some of the first-half dominance into an advantage score-wise. We were shell-shocked for five minutes when they scored twice quickly after being 1-0 up and looking good," he said.
"That's the element of the game that we have to mature in and keep getting better in. Defensively, we have to be thinking 'what if? If the ball is played in there are we fully covered and sorted and secure at the back?'
"We've conceded another two goals that we could have sorted out and prevented and then we'd have been back home 2-0 or 3-0 winners.
"It was a bit of a sucker punch coming in 2-1 down, but we were full of positives at half-time because of the attacking play and we deservedly got a point that could have been more."
Luke Armstrong nodded home George Thomson's corner as early as the second minute to give Harrogate the lead, though goals in quick succession from Joel Lynch and Sam Ashford just before the interval turned the game on its head.
Jack Muldoon's excellent solo run down to the right saw him deliver a dangerous low cross which was diverted into his own net by Archie Davies to level matters on 52 minutes before Crawley had substitute Ashley Nadesan sent off following an off-the-ball clash with Connor Hall.
Just as was the case during the opening period, Town created some good opportunities to add to their tally, with Hall and Armstrong both going close to making it 3-2, though with the hosts in survival mode following the sending off, Weaver said opening them up was far from straightforward.
"It's difficult against 10 men away from home," he added. "They put everybody behind the ball and they had their fair share of luck. The keeper saved with his legs [from Armstrong] at the end, but we can't be too disheartened coming here and getting a point and playing well.
"When time is running out you don't want to force the ball, but you've got to quicken the play up to try and make them become disorganised and create gaps to play in. At times we did that but they covered up and defended well to be fair to Crawley.
"I thought we had just cracked it when Josh Falkingham penetrated them and Luke came across and was very close to scoring - and it would have been a great feeling in the changing room.
"However, I will again go back to a point I made in the summer, sometimes we have to value a point, and we'll make the long journey back proud of the players.
"Being 2-1 down at half-time, all things considered, whilst some people might be frustrated, we think it's still a decent point."
Tuesday's result moves Town level on points with second-placed Leyton Orient, though they remain third in the table on goal-difference.