Joe Cracknell happy to play his part as Harrogate Town take a step closer to Wembley

Joe Cracknell kept another clean-sheet as Harrogate Town moved a step closer to an FA Trophy final date at Wembley.

Sunday, 9th February 2020, 8:57 am
Updated Sunday, 9th February 2020, 9:00 am
Joe Cracknell celebrates with the Harrogate Town fans after Saturday's FA Trophy third round success over Eastleigh. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Joe Cracknell celebrates with the Harrogate Town fans after Saturday's FA Trophy third round success over Eastleigh. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The former Hull City and Bradford City stopper made just his third appearance of the season during Saturday's 2-0 victory over Eastleigh at the CNG Stadium.

All of his outings this term have come in the Trophy, but Cracknell is unbeaten in almost four hours of football now, having also shut out Darlington in the previous round.

And although he admits that playing infrequently isn't easy for a goalkeeper, he said that he was just happy to be able to play his part in Town reaching the quarter-final stage.

"It is difficult, to be fair," he said.

"It's a case of training well every day because I know that when I get that opportunity I have to come in and perform.

"It's a case of preparing right and being mentally right so I can come in and play as well as I can and show the staff what I can do.

"Today, it's really pleasing to get another clean-sheet in the bag and help us take a step closer to Wembley.

"Obviously they put a bit of pressure on us in the last 15-20 minutes, came at us a bit more and put a few more balls in the box, but I thought we defended very well as a unit.

"The conditions were tough with the wind, and, second half I was always going to come under a bit of pressure, but the clean-sheet was the aim at the start, so to come out with that at full-time is pleasing."

Cracknell has had to play second fiddle to James Belshaw since his arrival from Valley Parade in the summer of 2017, though he has always done a job when called upon.

Indeed, he has managed four clean-sheets in seven competitive appearances during his two-and-a-half seasons at Harrogate and provides genuine competition for the number one shirt.

And, although they are vying for the same spot in Simon Weaver's side, Cracknell revealed that nobody is happier for him when he plays well than Belshaw.

"Belly is a great lad. We get on really well," the 25-year-old added.

"We both train hard and push one another and, to be fair, if I play and get a clean-sheet then he's happy for me.

"We help each other when we can, we speak about where we can improve as goalkeepers, so we've got that bond.

"It works really well, between me, Belly and Phil [Priestley] the goalkeeper coach. We work well as a unit."