View from the Press Box: A lot has changed, but things are looking up for Harrogate Town

Right-back Ryan Fallowfield found himself out of favour during the opening weeks of 2019/20, but has developed into one of Harrogate Towns most consistent performers. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Right-back Ryan Fallowfield found himself out of favour during the opening weeks of 2019/20, but has developed into one of Harrogate Towns most consistent performers. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Harrogate Advertiser sports editor Rhys Howell has his say on the latest goings-on at Harrogate Town.

A week is a long time in football.

A lot can change. And it has.

In the seven days prior to be penning this latest column, the picture at Wetherby Road has become a much prettier one.

Harrogate Town have won two difficult-looking fixtures, back-to-back, without conceding a goal.

They’ve beaten two sides in high-flying FC Halifax Town and Sutton United whom they failed to get the better of on any of the occasions they met last term.

Simon Weaver’s team now find themselves within touching distance of a play-off berth, rather than nervously looking over their shoulders at the relegation zone.

But it is not just the team’s form or their league position that has changed.

At the start of the season, George Thomson couldn’t even get in Weaver’s match-day 16, let alone onto the field of play.

Ryan Fallowfield sat on the substitutes’ bench, Joe Leesley was starting on the left-wing and picking out the back of the net from long-distance and there were question marks hanging over a new-look back-four.

The team as a collective couldn’t score a penalty to save their lives and I doubt whether many of those of a yellow and black persuasion had even heard of Alex Bradley.

Now, Thomson is finally back in the side and has made match-winning contributions in each of his last two appearances, while Fallowfield has nailed down the right-back position and has become one of Town’s most impressive and consistent performers.

Meanwhile, Leesley has left Wetherby Road to join Stockport County on loan and a Harrogate defence well-marshalled by new boys Will Smith and Connor Hall is keeping clean-sheets on a regular basis.

Lincoln City-loanee Bradley has become a regular in the centre of the park, next to Warren Burrell, who is now operating in a midfield role.

What's more, two spot-kicks out of two have also been confidently dispatched.

Some things haven’t changed and remain consistent. James Belshaw continues to impress between the sticks, churning out fine save after fine save and earning his team countless points.

But Weaver now seems to have found a better balance and things are looking up.

It’s also worth considering that Town haven’t had the easiest of starts when you consider the National League table as it stands.

They have played eight of the 11 teams currently above them, but only one of the bottom five.

Ebbsfleet United, one of those five sides who have struggled during the opening months of the campaign are the visitors to Wetherby Road on Saturday, and it’s important that Weaver and his men carry on their recent run of improved form by getting another positive result.

It was crucial, in my opinion, that full advantage was taken of both the outcome and manner of the performance at Halifax last week.

It was a display that had all the hallmarks of being a potential turning point and needed to be backed up by a win over Sutton.

Objective achieved, a big chunk of the hard work has been done. Town now have a platform and must put an extended sequence of results together and try and get themselves right up there among the promotion-chasing pack.

Three points on Saturday tea-time in front of the live TV cameras, a stage on which they didn't fare too badly last term, is next on the wish list.