THERE’S only two things on Harrogate Railway assistant boss Mick Norbury’s Christmas list this year: a watertight defence and a clean sheet.
Railway have been masters of their own downfall this season, dropping points against struggling sides to find themselves towards the lower end of the table as well.
Things were looking brighter after the 5-1 win over Wakefield, but their old defensive troubles reappeared during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at home to relegation fodder Prescot Cables.
Railway now sit 15th in the Evo Stik First Division North, and on paper should be hunting six points from the festive programme.
They host Durham City on Boxing Day (3pm), and then visit Clitheroe on January 2.
But Norbury isn’t feeling full of Christmas cheer and wants Railway to shore up at the back if they are to stand any chance of picking up a result.
“I think the win over Wakefield convinced us we’d turned a corner so we went into the Prescot game quite confident, but in the end we were lucky to get a point,” he said.
“No disrespect to Prescot but they’re as bad as Wakefield and we should be beating teams like that.
“It’s just frustrating.
“I might have to wear a black Santa suit on Boxing Day instead of red.
“I think we’ll have to play eight at the back, one in midfield and one upfront.
“That’s the only way we can defend at the moment.
“We’ve got some very good defenders but we’ve got to keep our discipline and our shape and stay focused.
“I know if we can keep a clean sheet we’ll win the game because we always score goals. It’s just the defence that’s a problem right now.”
Prescot took the lead with a penalty in the 32nd minute which Steven Tames converted.
Paul Beesley netted four minutes later to put Railway level only for Tony James to score with three minutes on the clock.
As defeat loomed, Luke Danville popped up with an equaliser in the last seconds of the match.
“There were silly mistakes and Prescot scored twice because we gave them the ball,” said Norbury.
“The lads we’ve got in our dressing room are better than Prescot by a long way.
“We just didn’t show it and that’s so frustrating.
“There was no way we thought we’d get anything less than three points against Prescot and at the end we were hanging on until Luke popped up.
“Hopefully we can start to turn it round, and the lads won’t be too full of turkey and Fosters on Boxing Day.”