Simon Weaver hoping that Harrogate Town's long-overdue clean-sheet is 'just the start'

Having said that his players needed to place more value on keeping clean-sheets in the wake of Saturday's home defeat to Salford City, Simon Weaver was naturally thrilled to see Harrogate Town shut out Carlisle United in midweek.

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 10:28 am
Harrogate Town goalkeeper Mark Oxley leaves the field at Carlisle United having kept a first clean-sheet in almost two months. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites ended Tuesday's contest with a zero in the 'goals against' column for the first time in nine league outings, a run of matches which stretches back almost two months to late September.

They certainly rode their luck at times, but the combination of some poor finishing by the Cumbrians, committed defending and a couple of important saves from goalkeeper Mark Oxley ensured that Town made it through a tricky evening in Cumbria without conceding.

Weaver, understandably, is now hoping that there are more to come.

Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver and his assistant, Paul Thirlwell were all smiles after their side's midweek victory in Cumbria.

"We've been after a clean-sheet for quite some time and we had a lot of defending to do in the second half, so I'm buzzing for the lads," he reflected.

"They fought so hard to deliver the three points and the clean-sheet, it's massive for us and I hope it is just the start.

"We just have to keep drilling the message home. We have to keep narrow as a back-four and come alive when the ball is in dangerous areas, be hungry to attack it and aggressive in our defending."

Tuesday’s shut-out was just Oxley’s third in 20 appearances in all competitions since joining Town this summer.

But he certainly earned it, making a good save from Zach Clough at 1-0, then an even better reaction stop to keep out Corey Whelan’s header at point-blank range in stoppage-time.

Thus, Weaver was quick to praise his goalkeeper after the final whistle.

"Ox is a huge guy, the saves he made, he makes them look easy, but that's probably just because he's got that huge frame and he fills the goal," the Harrogate boss added.

"It was very reassuring to have him behind the back-line tonight. He came up with a fine save at the end and we're delighted that he is our keeper."

It was not just Oxley who was singled out by the Town chief, with the four men in front of him also receiving a positive appraisal from their manager.

"I thought Connor Hall was magnificent tonight, I thought Lewis Page really took the hand-brake off and was really intense," Weaver continued.

"Nathan Sheron had to think about his game after his yellow card, but did well right from the off, I thought he was in the moment.

"And Warren, despite one run into midfield which nearly gave me a heart-attack, I thought he played very well as usual.

"But, to a man, I thought that everyone gave their all."