Harrogate Town to play youngsters as play-off hopes fade

Harrogate Town's Adam Nowakowski in action against  Solihull Motors.
Harrogate Town's Adam Nowakowski in action against Solihull Motors.

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver admits he will blood youngsters after his side slipped further behind in the play-off race.

A depleted Town suffered double disappointment on their travels this week. Oxford City held them to a goalless draw on Saturday before Solihull Moors beat them 2-0 on Tuesday.

Rivals FC Halifax Town then visited the CNG Stadium in a rearranged clash on Thursday and held Weaver’s side to a 1-1 draw.

Seventh-placed Town next welcome Stalybridge Celtic on Saturday (3pm) before second-placed Guiseley arrive at the CNG on Tuesday night (7.45pm).

Weaver remained philosophical despite admitting his promotion ambitions are all-but over.

The gaffer said: “It is getting increasingly difficult. But it is not impossible as Halifax have some really hard games to come. So you never know.

“Our form over the last few weeks has been mid-table form and that feels about right to where we are squad-wise.

“We will fight tooth and nail till the last ball is kicked. It would be an unbelievable achievement to turn it around but we are depleted.”

Adam Nowakowski, Paul Beesley (both ill) and Danny Forrest (tweaked stomach muscle) all pulled out on the morning of the Moors trip and were again unavailable for Halifax’s visit.

Solihull scored two second half goals in three minutes as Town slipped six points outside the play-off zone.

Weaver said: “It is frustrating that you can’t field a side or go with the same game plan that you have for the season. “We were dealing with half the team that we were.

“We looked weary. We lacked a little drive and purpose from midfield and running and spark up front. When balls have been knocked in, we haven’t been there.”

Guiseley ran out 2-0 winners against Town in September and the boss reckons they have the best squad in the league behind Fax and Chester.

Ahead of his side’s three games in six days, Weaver said: “We have nothing to lose. We want to enjoy it.

“Guiseley have changed to a different brand of football with the midfield getting the knock downs. They are another powerful squad. You look at it and think crikey.”

The gaffer called on fans to stay loyal to help his side steal local bragging rights.

He said: “We have had a good season but we don’t want it to fizzle out. We want the crowd to turn out for it. We don’t want to be outnumbered at home. Hopefully fans will get behind the youngsters and drive us on.”

Town have struggled to hit the net since Dominic Knowles left for Burton and Weaver admitted losing the star has hampered his side.

Knowles has been sidelined due to registration issues since his exit but Weaver understands Burton’s position.

Weaver added: “Paul Beesley and Chib Chilaka have done well this season but an out-and-out goalscorer like Dom is what we have missed.

“It is obviously frustrating for me. I’m not angry, but I am missing him.”