Harrogate Town's George Thomson urges team-mates to 'go and get in the mix’ for League Two play-offs
An impressive run of five victories in seven matches had seen the Sulphurites climb to ninth position where they sat just two points outside the top-seven, prior to dropping down to 11th following the weekend’s results.
They were denied the opportunity to potentially take ownership of one of those play-off berths when January 20’s game with Grimsby was called off due to the pitch at the EnviroVent Stadium being frozen.
And with last Friday’s scheduled fixture against Newport County also having been postponed because the Exiles were in FA Cup fourth round action against Manchester United, Town found themselves facing an enforced 17-day break between fixtures.
The fact that more than two weeks will have passed since their 2-0 success at struggling Forest Green Rovers by the time they run out at Sutton United this Tuesday is far from ideal in terms of maintaining that head of steam which has built in recent weeks.
Thomson, however, remains extremely positive regarding the position Harrogate have put themselves into, and says that the Sulphurites are relishing the challenge of trying to sustain a push towards the right end of the division.
“In terms of us as a team, I feel that we are really starting to develop and that things are coming together nicely,” the long-serving midfielder said.
“We are now producing performances week in, week out and are playing consistently better football and getting more consistent results.
“We have got ourselves into a brilliant position at the halfway stage of the season and we just have to keep our foot on the gas now and then see where we end up heading into the home stretch.
“Everyone in the changing room is looking at it now and we’re thinking ‘let’s not be scared of it, let’s go and get in the mix’. We strung a few wins together and the picture completely changed as far as the league table is concerned. If we can string two or three more together, we can climb even higher very quickly - and that has to be the aim.”
Town’s mindset at this stage of the season is very different to their previous two campaigns, where they have found themselves embroiled in a scrap for survival and looking very much over their shoulders.
Simon Weaver’s men ultimately went on to finish 19th out of 24 teams at the end of both 2021/22 and 2022/23, but now have their sights set somewhat higher.
“The last few years, if we are perfectly honest, it’s been the gap between us and the bottom two that we have been looking at as opposed to the gap to the play-offs,” 31-year-old Thomson added.
“But, I think that we are evolving. We want to become an established League Two team and are looking at our next step.
“We just need to target as many points as possible from this upcoming block of matches and keep racking up the results so that we keep progressing and hopefully stay in the picture at the right end of the table.”
Town’s recent run has seen them take 16 points from the last 21 on offer, and lose just one of their previous eight League Two games.
On the reasons behind their improved form, Thomson ventured: “Everyone is on the same page. Everyone has gelled together after the summer when new players come in and we’ve got a close-knit changing room of lads pulling in the same direction.
“We’ve been playing in a certain system week, in week out, with quite a settled team and the lads have got into a rhythm and I think everyone knows their roles really well.
“There is that belief that has been growing with that continuity and the results and it is only natural that when you are on a bit of a run, confidence becomes a big factor and winning does become a habit.”
But for Thomson, who is Town’s leading marksman so far this term with 10 goals in all competitions, there are contributing factors that are much deeper-rooted.
The core of Harrogate’s squad which remains from their last few years in non-league – where wins and promotions became the norm – developed a taste for success during their early years together at Wetherby Road, and still remains hungry for more.
"I’ve always said that when I think back to the summer when I signed for Harrogate, I never imagined that we’d have ended up in the position we are in now so quickly,” Thomson admitted.
"But, we are where we are because of what we’ve done as a club. It’s an incredible journey that we’ve been on, particularly the lads who’ve been here a long time like Falks [Josh Falkingham], Warren [Burrell], Mullers [Jack Muldoon] and Belly [James Belshaw], but it’s not one that anyone wants to end anytime soon.
"There is real belief in our changing room that there is more to come, 100 percent.
"The thing is, once you get a taste for play-offs, promotions, playing at Wembley, you just want more of it, it’s addictive. And, like I say, we are well-placed at this halfway stage of the season, so let’s just keep pushing.”
Saturday’s fixture with Grimsby was called off at noon, following an 11.30am pitch inspection by the match referee, which found the Wetherby Road pitch to be unplayable.