Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver writes exclusively for the Harrogate Advertiser Series,
Our first two results of the Christmas period, against Guiseley and Barrow were pleasing as we looked very solid and yet quick and dangerous on the break.
Not many people would have had us down to pick up any points but we did. The return game at Guiseley saw us concede poor goals and put in a limp performance in the first 60 minutes only to look a completely different team for the final half hour.
The disappointment of losing a local derby hit everyone hard but as a manager I had to try and keep the lads’ heads up after the game as they still kept going when we were losing convincingly.
We usually have a bite to eat and drink in the opposition bar after the match and I’ve always encouraged our players since I’ve been at the club to mingle with our supporters.
The Conference North/South is probably the last level where fans and players mix so closely after games. At higher levels there is always a separate bar for the players and their families.
At Guiseley we had a few of the players’ families in the bar as well as the usual supporters who travel loyally to away games.
Unfortunately a few things were said to the Chairman and myself and the players heard it.
I completely understood the frustration of the fans as we had lost the game but as long as you are able to give a straight answer back then I feel that is totally fine.
There is a time, however, in which you are allowed to hold your ground and disagree if the stick being thrown about becomes personal and aggressive, especially an hour after the game in a public bar when surrounded by family, some of whom were young children.
I’m glad the players showed solidarity in this case and hopefully that’s the end of it.
The game at home to Hednesford soon came around and we set up just as we had finished in the Guiseley game.
We put out an attacking looking team and I wanted us to be brave and pass the ball without worry.
We started nervously however, and whilst we had a good penalty shout turned down as well as creating a couple of half-chances,
Hednesford looked threatening and scored two quick goals in the final ten minutes before half-time and we faced an uphill battle in the second half to achieve a result.
To be fair to the players they did respond and we got some decent balls into the opposition box as we pinned them back.
I’ve watched the DVD of the game and it really was just the final pass or finishing touch that was missing.
I was pleased that Leigh Franks returned from injury and put in a good performance alongside Luke Shiels who has played with great consistency since signing from Worksop Town.
Louie Swain looked a real threat down the left, his running with the ball is powerful and direct and he is maturing as a player.
There were good positives to take out of that forty-five minutes but everyone involved has to recognise that it’s a ninety minute game and we are at a level whereby if you’re carrying a few who are having an off day then the opposition will take advantage. We are going through a sticky patch and we are going to have to dig deep.
If we can all look at ourselves in the mirror after each game and know that we’ve given everything to the club then things will turn around for us.
John McDermott and I have learnt more this season than any previous season and we will be stronger and better equipped because of it. We have to be relentless in our efforts for the club and see it through this period. At the end of it we will know who was up for the scrap, who was brave when the chips were down and who remained loyal throughout.