Simon Weaver credits Harrogate Town fans with assist for late winner in Rochdale triumph
Simon Weaver credited Harrogate Town's supporters with the assist for Warren Burrell's late winner in Saturday's 3-2 success over Rochdale.
The long-serving defender fired home following a scramble at a 91st-minute corner to settle a thrilling League Two encounter which ebbed and flowed throughout.
The 2021/22 curtain-raiser saw spectators allowed inside Wetherby Road to witness a league fixture for the first time in more than eight months.
Around 600 Dale supporters packed out the away end, but the remainder of the 1,841 in attendance did a fine job of roaring the Sulphurites onto victory having missed almost the entirety of last season - the club's first in the Football League.
And boss Weaver insisted post-match that the packed terrace behind the goal at the hospital end of the EnviroVent Stadium played their part in helping his players get over the line having thrown away a two-goal lead.
"I haven't quite caught my breath yet, it was a great start to the season," he told the Harrogate Advertiser.
"This was a game full of energy and excitement and so much of that was down to the contribution of both sets of supporters, which just adds to the adrenaline.
"It was a rollercoaster ride, but we finished really well and finished on top thanks to Warren's goal.
"What I have to say is, time and time again, when the supporters get behind us, we've scored late goals at that end of the ground. I don't think that's a coincidence or just by luck, it's because there's huge energy in those terraces.
"Put it like this, if Warren is scoring up there then he's being assisted by the crowd. The ball's been sucked in by the crowd's passion."
Debutants Luke Armstong and Alex Pattison struck inside the opening 10 minutes to hand Harrogate the perfect start to the campaign.
Alex Newby and Connor Grant found the net to drag Dale back level, however Weaver's troops were not to be denied all three points.
And such a positive outcome was just what the doctor ordered following what has been a difficult fortnight for the club.
The failure to put in place adequate safety measures at their ground left Town facing the possibility of having to kick-off the campaign behind closed doors, and although these problems were eventually rectified, the club's reputation has suffered as a result.
"We needed that moment," Weaver added. "It has been a frustrating time. There's been that negative news story because things [at the EnviroVent Stadium] were sorted so late in the day and it has been quite stressful.
"So, to come out on top - and in such a fashion - was everything that everyone on the playing side and everyone who has worked so hard in the last few weeks needed.
"It was a real lift and in dramatic fashion, too. It's quite the tonic, so all's well that ends well in a difficult week.
"The reaction from the fans, the ecstasy on the bench, the scenes after the final whistle where everybody stayed and gave such a rousing reception to the players shows why we do this job.
"But, it's something that we've got to build on, it won't mean much or be a great moment if we don't add to it and put more points on the board."
Saturday's victory means that Town finish the opening weekend second in the League Two standings, behind Swindon Town on goal-difference.