View From the Press Box: Bounce-back is key for a Harrogate Town side who don't fare too well when they fall behind
Harrogate Advertiser sports editor Rhys Howell has his say on the latest goings-on at Harrogate Town.
Harrogate Town’s defeat to Wrexham last weekend was just their first in seven matches.
The fact that they had won all of the previous six and not conceded a goal in any of the last five probably means that this loss can be allowed to pass without too much cause for concern.
In such an ultra-competitive division, every team is going to slip up at times. And, while I think one must guard against trying to find too many positives in defeat, there were certainly some to take from Saturday’s performance.
Their first-half display was as bright and fluent as I can remember seeing in some time.
The Dragons took the lead against the run of play and were then totally dominated for almost half an hour before rallying just before half-time.
Town certainly didn’t deserve to go into the break behind, but they did, and unfortunately they just never got going in the second period.
In the end, you’d probably say that Wrexham did enough after the interval to warrant all three points.
As mentioned previously, Harrogate’s recent form has been excellent and they have lost only three of their last 12 league matches.
In each of those games where they have come away with nothing, they’ve conceded the first goal.
Indeed, if you look back at the season as a whole, in the 10 National League fixtures in which they have fallen behind, they have come back to win only once - a 3-1 home success over Chesterfield in November.
They’ve lost six of those other nine encounters, fighting back to earn a point on three occasions, against Solihull Moors, Wrexham and FC Halifax Town.
These statistics only go to show how important it is for Simon Weaver’s team to get the first goal in games.
There have, of course, been occasions where Town have scored first and gone on to lose - Dagenham & Redbridge, Torquay and Eastleigh - but two of those matches were fairly early on in the campaign.
The strength of this side in recent months has come from making themselves harder to play against, and in the last four weeks, keeping lots of clean-sheets.
They’ve been able to get their noses in front and then remain in the ascendancy.
The numbers would suggest that Harrogate don’t fare too well when they’re having to chase the game, so no doubt Weaver will be hoping that it is his team who draw first blood when they visit Aldershot this weekend.
Leaders Barrow’s failure to win one of their two games in hand when they visited Solihull Moors in midweek means that Town are still just about in the title race, five points behind the Cumbrians.
There really is no margin for error, however.
Thus, three points are required on Saturday and the team’s response to last weekend’s set-back is crucial.
Just the other day, I was listening to a podcast about England’s defeat to South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final.
There was a discussion about how the English players had made mistakes then compounded them by following up with another error.
By contrast, it was stated that when the South Africans got something wrong in that game, they made they sure that they then delivered a positive, thus avoiding a build up of negative momentum.
At the moment, losing to Wrexham is just a blip in an otherwise excellent period for Town.
They need to ensure this result remains just that and doesn’t become the catalyst for their title bid imploding by beating the Shots.
Yes, there are still 14 more matches to go, but right at this moment in time, Saturday’s is by far the biggest of them all.