Harrogate Town's number one shirt up for grabs ahead of 2022/23 campaign

Simon Weaver says that Harrogate Town’s number one shirt is very much up for grabs ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

By Rhys Howell
Friday, 8th July 2022, 4:52 pm
Mark Oxley made 48 appearances in all competitions for Harrogate Town during the 2021/22 season, keeping nine clean-sheets. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Mark Oxley made 48 appearances in all competitions for Harrogate Town during the 2021/22 season, keeping nine clean-sheets. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The arrival of Pete Jameson from York City has strengthened the Sulphurites’ goalkeeping department significantly, meaning that last season’s first-choice stopper, Mark Oxley, now faces genuine competition for his place.

The 31-year-old was selected to start each of the 41 League Two games he was available for during 2021/22, with the recently-departed Joe Cracknell only picked after Oxley broke his leg in early April.

But, Town finished last term with the joint-second-worst defensive record in the division, prompting Weaver to overhaul his back-line, adding four new defenders in addition to Jameson, with more still to follow.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver, left, with Pete Jameson.

Thus, Harrogate’s manager insists that what happens on the training pitch and during friendlies will determine who is in his starting XI to take on Swindon Town on July 30.

“There is real competition for that spot between the sticks now,” Weaver replied when asked if the position was Oxley’s to lose.

“I want both of them to be enthused about that battle for the starting spot in the team, and I think that they are.

“That’s the case in every position and we’ll judge it on how lads perform this summer. I realise that both of them [Oxley and Jameson] want to be starting and they’ll both get plenty of opportunities to stake their claim.

“Obviously we are looking for good performances during the friendlies and that will go a long way towards determining who starts the season.

“The good thing is that there are no stocking-fillers here. We believe everyone in this squad is good enough to be starting games. There’s nobody we feel would really weaken the line-up if called upon.”

The fracture which Oxley suffered to the fibula in his left leg during Town's 2-0 defeat at Salford City on April 9 was expected to rule him out of his team's opening pre-season fixture against Sheffield Wednesday on Friday evening.

But Weaver has revealed that the ex-Hull City and Hibernian custodian will play half a game when the Owls visit Wetherby Road.

"Ox is fine and he'll play 45 minutes on Friday. He's done really well to get himself fit again ahead of schedule," he added.

"He's been training fully since day one [of pre-season]. He was straight back in diving around, throwing himself about with Phil Priestley and Pete.

"I didn't expect that to be the case after the injury he had. He's way ahead of where we thought he would be and that's because of how much he has put into his rehab over the summer.

"Obviously he had a programme from us to follow, but he's done a lot of his own work to give himself the best possible chance and he should be proud of himself. He's looking really good."

Town's clash with League One Wednesday kicks-off at the EnviroVent Stadium at 7pm on Friday evening.