Rochdale AFC v Harrogate Town: Simon Weaver spells out exactly what he wants from Sulphurites

Simon Weaver has spelt out exactly what he wants from his Harrogate Town players as they bid to bounce back from their midweek disappointment against Crawley.

By Rhys Howell
Saturday, 12th February 2022, 8:40 am
Updated Saturday, 12th February 2022, 8:42 am
Harrogate Town were beaten 3-1 at home by Crawley in midweek. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town were beaten 3-1 at home by Crawley in midweek. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites visit Rochdale on Saturday having failed to build on last weekend's derby success over Bradford City, twice shooting themselves in the foot on route to a 3-1 home defeat.

That result means inconsistent Harrogate have now won two, drawn one and lost three of their previous six matches, a run of form which indicates exactly why their manager is so desperate for his team to discover some consistency.

In order to do so, Weaver insists that they have to start making better decisions at both ends of the field.

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Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver.

“There’s enough there from the last three games to think ‘actually, we’re gonna be alright and we can look to push on’," the Town chief said.

“But, it’s got to be back to basics defensively, don’t give Rochdale anything. The defenders have to find a way of winning their challenges and clearing their lines.

“We’ve also got to keep feeding the pace and the power that we have got going forwards.

“We were negative at the start of the second half against Crawley and that cost us. It’s not us. When you’ve got a full-back overlapping, why wouldn’t you go on and attack? That’s our style.

“We like the lads to get in people’s face and to play attacking football. We’re fit enough and aggressive enough as a team to be able to play on the front foot. But, at this level, you’ve got to make consistently good decisions, so that’s the message.”

In addition to outlining what he wants his players to do with and without the football, Weaver has also spoken about the importance of his players having the mental capacity to learn from their mistakes in midweek and come back stronger.

"There were a couple of mistakes the other night, but it's just a case of get out there and go again," he added.

"The players are allowed to make mistakes. It's not a case of 'no more mistakes or you're out the club'. It's about what their character is like in terms of our culture of mistake, learn, be gritty.

"They have to buy into that culture of always learning, always striving because it does put points on the board eventually.

"It's as much about are they the right characters and can they pick themselves up and go again because you can get so far in this league by doing so.

"We've got to go for it and play our way, but we need to be resilient and persistent and try and take something from the game."

Harrogate travel to Spotland 13th in the League Two standings, while hosts Dale currently occupy 19th spot having won just one of their last six matches.

Weaver, however, has warned against underestimating Robbie Stockdale's side.

"We're aiming to win the game, obviously, but they are one of those mid-table teams at our level who, if you slacken off in terms of your work out of possession, they will expose you," the Town boss continued.

"They have got good Football League players. They are slippery, they have got a philosophy, if you like, of playing out, of playing through the thirds and that's what the game is breeding now, players who can go into tricky areas on the half-turn and be skilful.

"So, it's a tricky game, but if we are rigid in our approach out of possession then we will have chances because we have good players going forwards and we can break on them with our pace."

The only previous meeting between the two sides came on the opening day of the season when Rochdale recovered from two goals down to level matters, only to lose the game in stoppage-time to Warren Burrell's last-gasp strike.

Kick-off this Saturday is at 3pm.