Simon Weaver hails Harrogate Town's 'immense' defensive effort after victory over title-chasing Carlisle United

Simon Weaver praised his Harrogate Town team for what he described as "immense" defensive effort during Tuesday night's 1-0 success over Carlisle United.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 10:37 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 10:40 pm
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver was thrilled by what he saw from his players during Tuesday's 1-0 victory over Carlisle United. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The title-chasing Cumbrians arrived at Wetherby Road boasting the highest win-ratio in League Two and laid siege to the Sulphurites' goal for a big chunk of the second period.

Trailing to Josh March's 28th-minute spot-kick conversion, the visitors took every opportunity to launch a seemingly endless succession of long balls and long throw-ins into the home penalty area, though Harrogate stopper James Belshaw barely had a save to make.

And that fact highlights just how well the 10 men in front of his goalkeeper defended their box, according to the Town chief.

Harrogate Town goalkeeper James Belshaw celebrates his clean-sheet with defender Will Smith.

"It was immense defending," Weaver reflected.

"I don't think James Belshaw had too much to do. What he did do, he did superbly, his handling was sound and his kicking was good, but it wasn't like wave after wave of shots on goal that he was having to save.

"I think that's testament to the back-line and the way we defended our penalty area because it was old school launch it into the box, throw it into the box, and we stood up to the task extremely well.

"The defensive discipline involved everyone on the pitch. Everyone played their part. The concentration levels were extremely high from start to finish.

"We had to go for out-and-out size across the back-four in the end, it wasn't a tactical masterclass. It was basically stick another big lad on because they've just stuck another 6ft 2in lad on.

"But, it was that type of game and it's about whatever it takes to bring home the three points and the lads stood firm tonight. It was great."

Town undoubtedly played the better football on the night - albeit in patches - and looked much more of a threat going forwards than they did during their 1-0 home reverse at the hands of Cheltenham last time out.

Weaver was critical of his players for opting to take the direct approach all too often during that defeat, and demanded that they be braver on the ball.

And, while Tuesday's offering was a long way from being a vintage display of pass-and-move football, the Harrogate boss was satisfied with what he saw, taking into consideration the condition of the EnviroVent Stadium pitch.

"The stand-out was the clean-sheet, but attacking-wise we showed courage in their half and there was enough threat on the field to worry a top team in Carlisle," he added.

"We tried to split at times and that gave us a little bit of a chance to collect the ball in space, either in the full-back areas or sometimes the centre-halves, and get up the pitch from there.

"It was a streetwise performance. On this pitch at the moment, the surface, it's not going to be 10-15 passes, it's just not and I defy any team to be able to do that and look slick for the entirety of the game.

"But, it was important not just to go straight from the goalkeeper to Aaron Martin all night long, so we tried different way to break it up, and I thought we did that.

"I'm just really delighted with the effort from all the players. It was outstanding."

Victory for Town lifts them four places and up to 12th in the League Two standings ahead of Saturday's trip to Scunthorpe United.