Some of Harrogate Town's players exposed as being not 'good enough' during Newport County defeat

Simon Weaver said that some of his Harrogate Town players were exposed as being not "good enough" for League Two during their 4-0 mauling by Newport County.

By Rhys Howell
Saturday, 15th January 2022, 6:21 pm
Updated Saturday, 15th January 2022, 6:22 pm
Harrogate Town were comprehensively beaten 4-0 at Newport County on Saturday afternoon. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town were comprehensively beaten 4-0 at Newport County on Saturday afternoon. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

There were a couple of encouraging bits of approach play during the first half of Saturday's clash at Rodney Parade, but the Sulphurites looked largely ineffective in the final third, while their defending was, for the most part, absolutely woeful.

Chasing the game after Mickey Demetriou converted an eighth-minute penalty, the visitors could in truth have been further behind by the time Dom Telford's close-range strike took a deflection off Lewis Page and squirmed under the body of Mark Oxley just before half-time.

As easy as it was for the Exiles to cut Town open during the opening 45, far worse was to follow in the opening minutes of the second period as Telford - who is the division's top-scorer - was afforded the freedom of South Wales to end the game as a contest.

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Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver was not impressed by what he witnessed in South Wales.

And even Courtney Baker-Richardson managed to get in on the act soon afterwards, making up for some poor finishing before the interval by firing home number four on 55 minutes.

At that stage, Newport clearly took their foot off the pedal, and perhaps the most worrying thing for Harrogate is that they were so comprehensively beaten by a side who didn't seem to even get out of second gear.

"Whilst we were disappointed to lose the game and we were fuming, this has left a bit of a flat feel. There was less emotion after the game because people weren't good enough for the level today," Weaver reflected.

"I thought we were poor. I thought we looked like a team who enjoyed plenty of the ball at a Championship club last week and took plaudits that probably went to people's heads even though I said at the time that the outcome [at Luton] wasn't good enough.

"I won't use the excuse of there being no fans, it obviously wasn't a good atmosphere but they [Newport] grabbed it and it's harder for them being the home team without the support. But they were thoroughly professional, bullied us in areas and exposed us badly, so credit to them.

"I feel sorry for the goalkeeper today, he probably kept the score down to four, which is pretty embarrassing in itself.

"I thought Lewis Page showed great energy, desire, professionalism and ability but other than that there weren't too many who came out of it with credit, whether it be young or old or experienced. It was not a good day at the office."

Town's central defenders were left badly exposed on numerous occasions over the course of what was an afternoon to forget, something Weaver puts down to his side being too keen to try and commit bodies forward at every opportunity and not having enough energy about their work out of possession.

He continued: "It was almost as if all the focus was on when we get the ball or if individuals get the ball, we will do some damage. But, I thought we exposed our back-line badly by not looking after the ball and then we didn't show the required energy to retain a decent shape defensively throughout the game.

"We've got some good talented individuals going forwards and people are always saying how good we are going forwards, but we didn't carve out the chances. We didn't have the killer edge and, worse than that, we were our own biggest danger when we were in the attacking third because we had no end product or the recovery energy of years gone by.

"On the right, we were looking to advance before we could get into decent areas and get decent possession.

"The second goal just before half-time was horrific from our point of view, not part of our identity as a club and how we built it. The lack of energy when one player made a mistake was quite alarming. It was a scruffy, horrible goal but we just didn't get compact enough, there wasn't the urgency to go and help a team-mate out and he got badly exposed.

"To be fair to Newport they took their chances. We've been badly exposed by a decent team but the lack of energy was apparent today, which is the alarming factor."

Town weren't helped by a couple of big refereeing decisions going against them during the first period, referee Ollie Yates penalising Josh Falkingham for a foul on Telford inside the away box, but then booking Brahima Diarra for simulation when he went down at the opposite end of the field.

Weaver, however, dismissed any suggestion that those calls were to blame for the outcome of the match.

"I'd have to see them from different angles. From where I was, it looked like a decent shout for a penalty [for a foul on Diarra]," he said.

"But, we're not up in arms, we're not the biggest appealers in the world, we believe that we're not seeing it from the best of angles from where we are stood.

"Whether that is a telling factor, the pressure on the referee, I don't know, but regardless of that, we weren't good enough today."

Saturday's loss, which is Town's fourth on the bounce in League Two, sees them slip one place to 14th in the table.