Exeter City 4 Harrogate Town 3: Sulphurites need to keep the ball to alleviate pressure on leaky defence, says Simon Weaver

Simon Weaver believes that Harrogate Town need to look after the ball better if they are to start converting promising positions into points on the board.

By Rhys Howell
Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 9:26 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th February 2022, 9:28 am
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Getty Images
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Getty Images

Having surrendered a 3-1 lead at Rochdale at the weekend and been forced to settle for a draw, history repeated itself when the Sulphurites visited Exeter City on Tuesday evening, except on this occasion, they finished up empty-handed.

Leading 3-1 until the 71st minute through strikes from Luke Armstrong, Jack Muldoon and George Thomson, the visitors looked to be on their way to what would have been a fine away victory against opponents who appear genuine contenders for automatic promotion.

But, Town crumbled in spectacular fashion once again and their fragile defence - which is now the second worst in the whole of League Two - was breached three times during the final 24 minutes of what was another action-packed encounter.

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Weaver is all-too-aware that Harrogate need to tighten up, defend their penalty area more resolutely and cut out the seemingly endless succession of individual lapses and errors in and around their own penalty area, however he feels that his side can alleviate a significant amount of pressure if they stay in possession of the football for longer periods.

"Lessons have to be learned," the Sulphurites boss reflected.

"We scored three goals and could have had more, would have had more again if we kept the ball better. We had three versus one situations at the back because they changed their system, so we had opportunities to get it from the keeper to an outside centre-back, travel with the ball and keep it.

"But, we stopped because it's human nature when you're protecting a lead and personally I don't think we are very good at that. We need the ball to give the defenders a breather, to give everyone a breather. If it becomes a basketball game then you have to compute everything so quickly as defenders and at this level we are not quite ready for that.

"It hurts you, but I'd much rather be having growing pains and disappointment through trying to pay progressive football. We're not just setting up for nil-nils because we know we can penetrate teams and score goals.

"We haven't got the squad to be able to scrap for 1-0s, we've got exciting players but it takes some organisation behind those attackers. There's a vulnerability about us, that's the area where we haven't evolved and it hurts me, as a defender, that we are conceding goals."

Tuesday's defeat sees Town drop two places to 15th in the League Two standings.