Why Consistency Is Key For Harrogate Town – Opinion

Harrogate Town are a family club, that believes in values. It does help when your dad owns the club, but Simon Weaver is now into his 13th year as manager of the Yorkshire side.

The Sulphurites have, however, struggled somewhat since the turn of the year. By the middle of February this year, Weaver’s side had climbed to seventh position and were in the play-off positions. They had lost just once between December and the beginning of February but since then they’ve managed just three points, all from draws.

The 9-2 hammering by league leaders Mansfield Town won’t have helped the players confidence. The Stags have somewhat flourished since that result and look good value to secure promotion to League One. Harrogate, meanwhile, appear to have faltered.

In his time in charge, Weaver has accomplished plenty, but it did all start with him saving the club from relegation from National League North on the final day of the 2011/12 season. He later helped them to promotion from the same league in 2018, when they beat Brackley Town 3-0 in the play-off final.

Fast forward to August 2020 and Town were promoted from the National League in the delayed COVID play-off final against Notts County. The Sulphurites won 3-1 with current midfielder George Thomason, Connor Hall and Jack Diamond all on the scoresheet.

In May 2021 Harrogate played the delayed FA trophy final, due to Covid 19 and in doing so were the first football league club to win it, beating Concord Rangers, Josh Falkingham with the winning goal.

The Yorkshire club are now well-established in League Two, despite being favourites last season to go back down. A lot of that is down to not chopping and changing personnel.

Experience does appear to be the foundation for the Wetherby Road outfit, with an average age of 26.3. Striker Jack Muldoon, defender Warren Burrell and keeper’ James Belshaw have over 500 games of experience between them, to help the younger players.

In 33-year-old goalkeeper Belshaw, the Sulphurites have a dependable pair of hands between the sticks, with six clean sheets from 27 games. His distribution isn’t too shabby either, with 87% of his passes in his own half reaching a teammate.

Earlier-mentioned midfielder Thomason is the top scorer for the Yorkshire club with 11 goals, whilst striker Muldoon is just behind with nine. Advanced midfielder Matty Daly is top of the charts for assists with nine.

Discipline appears to be one of Harrogate’s main attributes with the club having no red cards all season. Town are one of only three clubs in League Two to have managed such a feat, alongside Swindon Town and Stockport County.

The Wetherby Road outfit are also very good at promoting from within, with ex-player Lloyd Kerry now part of the coaching team, and current midfielder Josh Falkingham managing the U21s.

Despite the fact they’ve claimed just three draws since February, Weaver’s side are still just seven points off the play-offs. With just nine games to go, starting with Saturday’s away game at Barrow, many of them look winnable.

Consistency is key if Harrogate are to make the play-offs, and will need to take a minimum of 15 points from 27. It seems a tall order to win five of those nine matches but if anyone can do it then it’s Weaver’s side.

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