Simon Weaver outlines Harrogate Town's goalkeeper recruitment plan following decision to release Joe Cracknell

Simon Weaver has stated that he intends to sign a goalkeeper who will come in and "provide even more competition" for Harrogate Town's number one shirt.

By Rhys Howell
Sunday, 15th May 2022, 6:19 pm
Updated Sunday, 15th May 2022, 6:21 pm
Joe Cracknell is leaving Harrogate Town after five seasons at Wetherby Road. Picture: Matthew Appleby
Joe Cracknell is leaving Harrogate Town after five seasons at Wetherby Road. Picture: Matthew Appleby

The decision not to offer Joe Cracknell a new deal when his contract expires this summer means that Mark Oxley will be the only senior stopper on the Sulphurites' books heading into the 2021/22 campaign.

And, whereas Cracknell consistently played second fiddle to James Belshaw and then Oxley during his five years at Wetherby Road, making just a handful of appearances per season, Weaver is hoping that his off-season recruitment creates a "real fight" for the berth between the sticks.

Given that Town finished last term with the joint-second-worst defensive record in League Two, it goes without saying that improvements have to be made at the back, a fact that Harrogate's manager says he is under no illusion about.

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Sulphurites' number one Mark Oxley missed the club's final five matches of 2021/22 with a broken leg. Picture: Matt Kirkham

"We need someone coming in this summer who will provide even more competition for the number one shirt," Weaver told the Harrogate Advertiser.

"Joe Cracknell has been great since he joined this club. He's never been a moment's problem, he's a brilliant lad, always trains properly, an absolute pleasure to work with.

"And, he did really well for us during the last few games of the season, he made some very good saves.

"But, from his point of view, he's 27 now and he needs to play regular football so that he is able to reflect on a career where he hasn't only been a really solid number two.

"What we are looking to do is try and improve our squad in all areas and this includes bringing in another goalkeeper whose arrival creates a real fight for that position in the team."

Cracknell finished the 2021/22 season in the team but is one of eight Town players whose contract is up this summer not to be offered a new deal by Weaver.

The ex-Hull City and Bradford custodian started all of the Sulphurites' final five fixtures following an injury sustained by Oxley at Salford City on April 9, managing one clean-sheet in the process.

Thirty-one-year-old Oxley was sidelined with a fractured fibula, but is expected to be fit again well before the start of the new campaign.