We do practice penalties, insists Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Simon Weaver insisted that his Harrogate Town players do practice penalties after witnessing another costly miss from 12 yards on the opening day of the 2019/20 campaign.

Brendan Kiernan spurned the chance to win Saturday's National League curtain-raiser against Solihull Moors when he cleared the cross-bar with a 69th-minute spot-kick.

And that miss was Town's third in as many National League outings, Jack Muldoon seeing efforts saved on the final day of the regular 2018/19 season, at Wrexham, then against AFC Fylde in the play-off eliminator.

Asked if his team's recent failures from the spot were proving costly, Weaver replied: "Yes."

He went on to add: "Last season is last season, but we've taken one today and tried someone new and he's ended up not scoring.

"We've practised them. No-one can point the finger and say we never practice it or we don't have people practising, but I don't know, maybe we get a crowd in for a day during training and trying replicate the roar.

"[Penalties] are one of those things we'll continue to work on."

That spot-kick miss was, eventually, all that prevented Town from kicking-off the new season with a victory against one of the strongest sides in the division.

Weaver's men got themselves into a position to go on and take all three points courtesy of a strong second-half showing, however they had struggled during the opening 45.

Their back-four endured something of a torrid time in the first period, yet Weaver believes that his new central-defensive pairing of Connor Hall and Will Smith will have learned plenty from the experience.

"Sometimes the line was too high but it's just because they're aiming to please and I thought they grew in confidence," Weaver said of his centre-halfs' display.

"They did show signs of being concerned by the strength [of Nathan Blissett and Paul McCallum] first half and as a centre-half you've got that ego that you don't want to be pushed about, but you've got to box clever.

"It's how they grow in maturity and how fast they learn that will define their season and their spell with us but the good thing is they are learners, they're up for it, they've got athleticism and they came through that battle.

"Will Smith is having an x-ray on his hand, but also had cramp, so that was a bit of a double-whammy, but I thought Warren [Burrell] came inside and did well and Ryan [Fallowfield] did well when he came on."

Having found themselves a goal down at the interval, Weaver praised his side for the character they showed in the second half.

He felt that being brave enough to try and play their natural passing game proved the difference, and wants to see more of the same at Barrow on Tuesday evening.

"The reaction deserved a point at least and we'll take a point, for sure. There are no regrets because we played to our strengths and we were brave enough to do so," he added.

"The first half wasn't easy, I knew they'd stick it on us in the final third and it's also handling that first-day heat and nerves and excitement.

"Second half, we stretched it out and started passing a bit more, we started working the ball better and they looked a bit jaded from that. We were running past their players and it was an exciting performance.

"Barrow will be a totally different game, but we've got to own the ball and, without committing suicide, we have to be brave because you could see the full potential of the team in passages of play in the second half on Saturday.

"We've got to make sure that we track runners better than we did and we've got to play exciting football to then have no regrets."