Luke Armstrong backs Harrogate Town to ‘hit the ground running’ ahead of 2022/23 League Two campaign

Luke Armstrong wasn’t overly impressed by Harrogate Town’s final pre-season performance, but is backing himself and his team-mates to “hit the ground running” this term.

By Rhys Howell
Monday, 25th July 2022, 8:42 am
Updated Monday, 25th July 2022, 8:45 am
Harrogate Town striker Luke Armstrong steals the ball off Gateshead's Carl Magnay on the way to putting his side 2-0 up in Saturday's pre-season friendly at the International Stadium. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town striker Luke Armstrong steals the ball off Gateshead's Carl Magnay on the way to putting his side 2-0 up in Saturday's pre-season friendly at the International Stadium. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The League Two Sulphurites beat National League Gateshead 3-1 on Saturday in what was their fifth and last friendly outing before the 2022/23 campaign gets underway at home to Swindon on July 30.

And the 26-year-old striker, who bagged a brace at the International Stadium, doesn’t see any reason why Town can’t go some way to emulating their start to last season, which saw them lose just one of their opening 13 matches in all competitions.

"Saturday was probably the opposite to how it has been in pre-season, the performance wasn't as good as we'd hoped it would be," Armstrong reflected. "It was a little bit flat, but we got the result and we scored some goals, which was what we aimed to do, so I'm happy, really.

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Luke Armstrong forces the ball past Gateshead's on-loan Newcastle United goalkeeper Dan Langley to put Harrogate Town 3-1 up.

"Finishing with a win is the main thing. We've still got a lot to work on, but, to be able to play poorly against, to be fair, a decent side and get the result, that's the main thing. I know they've only just come up to the National League, but they play good football and we dealt with it well at times, though we're still looking to improve on the performance.

"Performance-wise I think this pre-season has been pretty similar to the last one. Last year we were leaking goals, I seem to remember, then the season started and we got off to a flyer.

"I think that shows that it's not just about what happens in pre-season, but then again you do want to be feeling sharp, and I think the lads are getting there now. Coming into the season, we are feeling pretty good and like we can hit the ground running the same as we did last year."

With Town already leading 1-0 through A. Trialist's early strike, Armstrong opened his account for the summer shortly before half-time when he dispossessed Gateshead defender Carl Magnay on the edge of the home box and confidently slotted past Dan Langley.

He would double his tally for the match on 66 minutes, forcing the ball beyond Langley at the second attempt having got on the end of Jack Muldoon's low cross from the right.

And the former Middlesbrough forward admits that finding the back of the net twice on the eve of a new campaign came as a timely boost.

"The first goal, I thought I had a chance of getting there and their player hesitated a little bit. I got a toe in there to nick it and that's what you've got to look to do as a striker, gamble on everything and you'll get your rewards eventually," Armstrong added.

"The second one, Mullers has done brilliantly when he came on, he brought a lot of energy. He does that, he's really unselfish. He could have shot himself - and a lot of people would have done in that position - but he squared it to me and, second time of asking, it managed to creep in. But, as long as it ends up in the back of the net, that's all I'm bothered about.

"It's not a bad way to end pre-season at all, I think that I was missing goals from my recent performances. Obviously coming up against higher-division opposition I wasn't getting many chances, so it was good to get goals on Saturday.

"I want to keep being consistent with scoring goals and get as many as I can. In pre-season, you want to hit the ground running and if you're full of confidence backed by scoring goals then it's much better heading into the season."