Preparing for Concord Rangers clash hasn't been easy for Harrogate Town, says Simon Weaver

Concord Rangers players celebrate scoring against League Two Stevenage during November's FA Cup draw. Pictures: Getty ImagesConcord Rangers players celebrate scoring against League Two Stevenage during November's FA Cup draw. Pictures: Getty Images
Concord Rangers players celebrate scoring against League Two Stevenage during November's FA Cup draw. Pictures: Getty Images
Simon Weaver admits that preparing for Harrogate Town’s FA Trophy final showdown with Concord Rangers has been far from straightforward.

The Beach Boys have not played a competitive fixture since February 13 due to the coronavirus-enforced suspension then abandonment of the 2020/21 National League South season.

As a result, Weaver and his back-room team have not been able to scout Monday’s opponents, nor have they had any up-to-date footage of Rangers in action to analyse.

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And the Sulphurites boss has revealed that uncertainty regarding which players the Essex outfit still have on their books has made it difficult to predict how they will line-up at Wembley.

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.

“It has been a bit of a challenge because we intend to prepare for this fixture the same as any other,” Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.

“We put together a presentation for the lads before every match and this one will be no different. We need to be as accurate as possible in the analysis but it’s hard because we don’t have any up-to-date coverage.

“When I was reviewing some clips I remember thinking to myself ‘Concord have a right-winger who looks a handful’, only to then discover he’s now playing for Aldershot.

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“But we’ve just got to do the best we can with the footage we have from earlier this season and from what we’ve learned through speaking to contacts who have come up against them.”

Although there are undoubtedly one or two blanks which need filling in, Weaver says he has found enough out about Concord to know that they will be no pushovers, despite their lack of recent game-time.

“We know that they’re a good footballing team. The National League South is a footballing division. We are under no illusions, this is definitely a side who can play,” he added.

“They’ve got a good pitch, so they like to knock it about. They play between the lines very well but they’ve also got a strongman up front, so they can mix it up if they need to and go from A to B quickly.

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“We know that they’ve got a decent goalkeeper with a history of success when it comes to saving penalties and we’re aware of the quality in their squad. It’s hard to predict with a lot of certainty the side that they will put out, but whatever happens, we are expecting a tough game.”

Concord were 17th in the National League South standings when the season was abandoned having won just three of the 14 matches which they managed to complete.

Yet although two full divisions separate the sides, Weaver is adamant that complacency will not creep into the Harrogate camp.

“There are no delusions of grandeur within our changing room. We might be a Football League club now, but there are no egos.

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“We may well be favourites for the FA Trophy in many people’s eyes, however there will not be any complacency.

“We have a squad that is comprised of a lot of players who came up from National League North with us. A lot of those lads will be playing on Monday and that is the same level that Concord are playing now.

“I’m sure that their players will look at us and think ‘we could do that, we could write the same story’ and there is no chance of us underestimating them in any way.”

Concord manager Danny Scopes is well aware that the odds are stacked against his team, but says that “funny things can happen” when a team has nothing to lose.

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“It’s a little bit stacked against us but we’re not going to use that as an excuse,” he told the Non-League Paper.

“We’re under no illusions how difficult it is going to be, it is a real big task. It would be a big task in a normal season but when you’ve got nothing to lose then funny things can happen, can’t they?”

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