Harrogate Town's victory over Eastleigh evidence of team's progress in recent months

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver believes that Saturday's 3-0 victory over Eastleigh is evidence of how far his team have come since the teams last met in the National League.

Monday, 24th February 2020, 4:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th February 2020, 12:49 pm
Jack Muldoon celebrates after scoring Harrogate Town's third goal against Eastleigh. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The Wetherby Road outfit produced one of their most disappointing performances of 2019/20 when they were beaten 4-2 by the Spitfires down in Hampshire at the start of November, but have since gone on to lose just four times in 19 outings.

Indeed, Town now sit second in the league table and have progressed to the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy, with Weaver attributing his side's progression, in part, to leasons learned in defeat.

"I think, as a group, everyone has learned from that defeat at their place, which was one of the dips we've had this season," he said.

"I think everyone has learned about their style, their system of play and cutting it out early - the crosses from deep - spreading out as a midfield four.

"You're allowed to learn, aren't you? I think everyone has done just that and I think we are better equipped against that style of play now.

"Through tricky spells you learn about the players' character, and even during the first 10 games, everyone seemed to stick together. There never seemed to be anything toxic going off or any bad attitude or slacking off or giving up.

"The squad has definitely developed and got better. I think Saturday was one of the most complete performances of the season, especially in the conditions, with the weather, because it is easier said than done."

Town's evolution in recent months has been tangible, their improvement reflected in their progression from play-off contenders to title challengers.

And, with their squad functioning so effectively, four players - James Belshaw, Lloyd Kerry, Jack Muldoon and George Thomson - have been handed contract extensions.

For Weaver, these new deals are both reward for high levels of performance on the field, and a way of trying to ensure that his team continues on its upward trajectory.

"Since turning full-time, we've had a pride about us, bringing in hungry lads and I think they've all developed as players and improved," he added.

"That's why we have extended the deals of several players because they deserve to continue, and enjoy their football, and to keep pushing this club on. They deserve a crack at it next season, no matter what.

"We are second in the table in a hard league and they've continued to improve as a group of players and we are better as a collective force, sticking together."