Warm welcome has enabled Harrogate Town new boys to flourish straight away

Harrogate Town head to Crawley today aiming to record back-to-back League Two victories for the first time since October.

Saturday, 6th February 2021, 9:37 am
January arrival Josh March has hit the ground running at Harrogate Town, contributing two goals and an assist already. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

Boosted by the addition of seven new recruits courtesy of manager Simon Weaver’s bold approach to his January transfer business, the Sulphurites have delivered some much-improved performances in recent weeks, culminating in a 2-1 triumph over promotion-chasing Newport County last time out.

The Harrogate chief has been quick to praise the incoming personnel for the impact they have made, but has also acknowledged the part his existing squad members have played in making the new faces feel welcome.

“I feel that the fresh blood has made a real difference,” said Weaver.

Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver.

“We’re back to doing what we became renowned for – playing with real energy. The legs are back and, to be honest, I was thrilled with the way we went about things against Newport last time out. There were no inhibitions at 1-0 down, we just kept driving at the opposition.

“You’ve seen it at other clubs and we’ve had it here in the past, new players don’t always hit the ground running but I think these lads have come in and done exceptionally well so far.

“We brought in hungry animals, and credit to them for the way that they have applied themselves, but the existing players have been brilliant too – the senior lads in particular.

“The likes of Josh Falkingham, our captain, are just nice individuals and they’ve created an atmosphere which has made the new signings feel welcome straight away. That is so important because it has allowed these lads to come here, settle in and then start showing us what they’re capable of – and we are already seeing the benefits out on the pitch.”

Weaver knows himself from his own playing days how difficult it can be to settle at a new club, but revealed that Town's senior players have taken it upon themselves to try and create an environment in which those coming in from the outside can flourish.

"It's awful when you come in to a new club as a young player and you feel like you've got cynical older pro's looking over your shoulder because they're worried about you taking their place in the team," he added.

"I've been there myself and it's not nice. You don't want that feeling of being the new kid at school.

"We've seen it quite recently that some of our lads have gone out on loan to another club and not enjoyed the experience because the changing room hasn't been good, or hasn't felt right.

"The lads we have here understand the importance of helping new players settle in quickly and they've gone out of their way to make sure that happens.

"It's about the atmosphere you create on the training ground and in the changing room and I can't claim any credit for that, the lads are responsible for making this what I like to think is a good environment to come to work in."

Without a Tuesday fixture for once, Town have had a full week to prepare for their trip to Crawley and been afforded a welcome opportunity to further integrate their new arrivals ahead of what looks, on paper, a tricky fixture.

The Red Devils, who caused a huge FA Cup upset when they beat Premier League Leeds United 3-0 just last month, have lost only one of their previous 10 League Two outings.

They are without a win in their last two, however, having drawn a blank at home to Leyton Orient in midweek following on from a 3-1 reverse at the hands of Cambridge United.

The two sides drew 1-1 when the sides met at the EnviroVent Stadium in November, Jack Muldoon netting an 85th-minute equaliser to cancel out Max Watters' first-half opener.

That goal against Harrogate was one of 16 that the prolific Red Devils striker netted in just 19 appearances this term, but Weaver's men will not have to worry about dealing with him this weekend.

The 21-year-old joined Championship outfit Cardiff City during the January transfer window for a reported £1 million fee.