Survival Weaver's only concern as Gateshead end Town's Trophy dream

THEIR quest for silverware has officially ended but Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver has his eyes on a much bigger prize- Blue Square North survival.

Tuesday's 2-0 home defeat against Gateshead in the FA Trophy means Town are now out of every single cup competition and face the prospect of being bottom of the league heading into the New Year.

Weaver knows the enormity of the task in hand, to transform his side's flagging season as they gear up for a string of must-win clashes over the festive period.

Tomorrow they face an acid test of their mettle at home to Gloucester City before Boxing Day's trip to Yorkshire rivals Farsley Celtic who despite a ten-point deduction at the start of the campaign currently sit nine points above Weaver's men (both 3pm ko).

Weaver will know Town's only achievable goal now is to stay up something he remains confident they will achieve.

"We need a victory, the lads need a victory," he said.

"But I think the new signings we've made will make a difference. All the games are big now, they're all important starting with Gloucester.

"We need to get through the next few games then I think in the New Year the team will have settled and I'm sure you'll see results."

Weaver is hoping Town fans will return to the CNG tomorrow after just 160 turned up for Tuesday night's Trophy exit.

The Town boss understood the reasons for the poor attendance on a bitterly cold December night but believes with an exciting arsenal of strikers now at his disposal they will come back.

"It was a low crowd but we can understand that," he added.

"But hopefully it will be bigger on Saturday. We've got an exciting new strikeforce who will be available, I think that will make a difference.

"We'll have Peter Knox and Jason Bradley available. There's also Martin Foster so hopefully that brings some excitement too."

As well as veteran striker Simon Yeo who made his debut in Saturday's 1-1 FA Trophy draw at Gateshead, Town have also added 19-year-old midfielder Lee Bennett on an indefinite loan from Lincoln City.

Town kicked off their hectic week with a trip to Tyneside and were unlucky not to have won after creating a host of chances to kill off the contest.

Gateshead's Graeme Armstrong missed the first good opportunity for the hosts before Jimmy Ghaichem squandered a chance of his own soon after.

In the second period Town's Craig James rattled the crossbar with a header from a corner but teammate Brian Dutton went one better ten minutes from time when he found a way past Paul Farman from Dave McTiernan's free-kick to put Town 1-0 up.

The home side awoke from their slumber and levelled the match just four minutes later when sub' Steven Richardson smashed home after indecision in Town's box to force a replay.

Three days later the story was the same as both sides traded punches but went into the break goalless.

But in the second period Gateshead showed their class when former Grimsby striker Daryl Clare headed home on 63 minutes.

Then minutes later Phil Swailes made it 2-0 after flicking on a free-kick.

"I thought we played very well in the first game," said Weaver.

"We controlled possession and created some good chances but we just couldn't take them. On Tuesday we held our own until half-time and there was still everything to play for.

"But it was two quick goals that cost us. They said after the game that they couldn't believe we were bottom of the league the way we played over the two days."

lTOWN could be welcoming World Cup stars to the CNG Stadium in 2018, after the FA selected Elland Road as one of 15 venues for England's official bid. If England do host the Cup, to be decided next year, Town would support the Leeds stadium by providing Wetherby Road as a training base.

Blue Square North P Pts

Southport 21 45

Eastwood Town 21 37

Fleetwood Town 19 36

Droylsden 20 36

Stalybridge 17 34

Alfreton Town 21 34

Hinckley Utd 19 34

Corby 20 34

AFC Telford 20 29

Ilkeston Town 19 28

Workington 19 24

Farsley Celtic 20 22

Blyth Spartans 18 21

Gloucester 20 21

Stafford Rangers 21 21

Redditch 21 21

Northwich 18 19

Solihull Moors 21 19

Hyde 20 18

Gainsborough 20 17

Vauxhall Motors 19 13

Harrogate Town 20 13