From the Terraces: Chorley win a welcome tonic after worst display in three years

Harrogate Town supporter Dave Worton’s view on the 2019/20 campaign.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 7:55 am
Jack Muldoon discreetly heads Harrogate Town into a 2-0 lead against Chorley, much to the surprise of at least one supporter. Picture: Matt Kirkham

It’s seventy minutes into the Chorley match on Tuesday night and I’m talking to a fellow supporter stood next to me in the Kop.

“I’ll take 1-0 at this stage,” I say, as a period of sustained yet aimless possession for the visitors ensues and Town struggle to get out of their own half.

“But it’s 2-0,” says the man stood next to me, turning to look at me with a puzzled expression on his face.

“What?” I stutter, bemused, thinking I know it’s not the most exciting of matches, but I’m sure I’d have remembered a second goal. I think he may be having me on.

“Muldoon scored,” he replies.

“Really? ... When?” I ask.

“Yes, really. After 47 minutes,” he informs me.

I’m still not sure whether to believe him, so I take a sneaky Twitter peak on my phone.

There it is in black and white, 2-0 in little brackets after the latest entry.

I don’t know whether to be happy or slightly annoyed that I missed it.

My whole second half so far has been built on shifting sand.

“And you’re supposed to be writing this up too,” he laughs.

It’s a fair point, well made, but the Advertiser did say they weren’t after a match report every week, more a tale of the terraces. It’s just as well.

It takes a while, but eventually my brain dissembles the truth.

I’d been in the 1919 bar at half-time, speaking to Supporters’ Club secretary Paul Mitchell.

He can talk, as can I. By the time I emerged, I thought the second half must surely have been underway, but had been pleasantly surprised to see that Chorley were just kicking off and Town fans were still filing around the ground towards the Kop.

I’d heard Jack Muldoon’s name announced to a round of applause, followed by the announcement of a Chorley substitution, so I’d assumed Jack had been subbed off at half-time.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight, what I was witnessing was the re-start following the second goal.

A solid case of my brain taking two plus two and making five.

What makes things worse was various comments I’d uttered in the second half, such as “Town have started slowly” and, in response to the fellow supporter next to me commenting confidently that Town would win this easily, “Are you sure? I’m not.”

He must have thought I was mad. Or, at best, really, really pessimistic.

The final embarrassment though was realising that Muldoon was still on the pitch 20 minutes into the second period.

In fairness, he hadn’t seen the ball much down our end, and I stated as much.

The withering look I got from my daughter Molly was indescribable.

Embarrassment aside, although we shouldn’t get carried away, as struggling-at-the-bottom-of-the-table Chorley were pretty poor, it’s a vital and very welcome three points in a must-win game.

Town haven’t created a lot going forward, and the free-flowing football of last season isn’t quite there, but it’s a professional performance with a clean-sheet and really pleasing to see the players get off to a quick goal-scoring start in each half - Myself and a few other stragglers in the 1919 excepted, of course.

The same can’t be said of the Dover match at the weekend, where the consensus of opinion around me is that Town put in possibly their worst performance for three years.

Dover are a very good, well-organised team with a dangerous centre-forward.

They reduced Town to hitting the ball in the general direction of an isolated and unsupported Mark Beck, only for it to keep coming straight back.

They forced us to play too deep and when we did venture forward, the players found it difficult to penetrate a well-marshalled Dover rear-guard.

Even the normally lively Brendan Kiernan was snuffed out by two or three visiting players every time he got the ball.

With the crowd on a downward trajectory into three figures - under half of the attendance for the Dover home game last year - and the team seemingly indifferent on the pitch, the loudest chant from Town fans was ‘eighteen quid and no one’s here.’

It was ultimately depressing to watch and I’m glad Molly wasn’t there to witness it, having made the right decision to go to a friend’s party instead.

Even the manager admitted he was bored after the game, whilst trying to reassure us supporters that they don’t practice hit and hope in training.

I’ll look forward to a different routine from the kick-off then in future.

It’s an inconsistent start to the new season, summed up by one defeat and one win in two home matches.

Thankfully, Tuesday’s triumph over our Lancashire neighbours takes us nearer to mid-table than the bottom in these early skirmishes, and that will do nicely for me.