'Needless' goal costs Harrogate Town in EFL Trophy loss at Sutton United

Simon Weaver described the Sutton United goal that knocked his Harrogate Town side out of the EFL Trophy at the quarter-final stage as "needless".

By Rhys Howell
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:53 am
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:54 am
Harrogate Town defender Lewis Page is challenged by Sutton United's Joe Kizzi. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town defender Lewis Page is challenged by Sutton United's Joe Kizzi. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

Craig Eastmond's 80th-minute volley sealed a 1-0 success for the U's on Tuesday evening, deciding an encounter which the North Yorkshiremen had the better of.

Having given away a free-kick not too far outside their own box, Town then conceded a corner that they failed to deal with, affording their hosts the opportunity to snatch a winner.

"They're a top team this season at our level and we matched them all the way and actually probably produced more promising situations in the final third than they did," Weaver reflected.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

Sutton United celebrate Craig Eastmond's late winner in Tuesday night's EFL Trophy quarter-final success over Harrogate Town.

"But, unfortunately we had a rush of blood down our right-hand-side and gave away a daft free-kick and it led to a little bit of pressure. They had a lot of bodies forwards and won four out of the five contacts in the box at that time and we've conceded a goal that was needless.

"You could hear a pin drop among their supporters throughout until those set-pieces because we've reduced them to smashing it forward and hoping for the best. We were pretty composed when we got the ball down and played and all I'd say in regret was that we had that rush of blood at the end.

"As an away team coming up against a top team at this level, we defended well, we were solid, compact and there were some very good individual performances.

"We could have played forward quicker into feet but it's a tight, bobbly pitch, not an easy place to come and we were not off it at all and it could have gone our way. What we have got to learn is to shut the game out and not have that rush of blood because they avoided that lapse."

Town cruised to a 3-0 League Two victory over Oldham Athletic on Saturday, but their previous away fixture saw them routed at Newport County.

And although annoyed by the goal his team conceded against Sutton, Weaver felt that their overall defensive performance proved "big strides" have been made since that 4-0 loss in South Wales.

"In terms of our performance compared to our last away performance it is a big stride forwards," he added.

"The performances of the back-line were really solid, really determined. They showed the right physicality.

"We kept two very dangerous wingers at bay and we were very strong. I think it is important to realise that we have turned the corner in terms of being solid in the last two performances. I think we could really go on a good run, but good runs start with clean-sheets.

"We didn't quite make it tonight, we did on Saturday, but we are now starting to reduce opponents to very few opportunities which is a good springboard to move forwards from.

"It was a tight quarter-final. We didn't go under by any stretch of the imagination and we could easily have won this game. It wasn't to be, but it will make us stronger."