VIDEO: Pressure-free Harrogate Town must improve to reach National League North play-off final says Weaver
Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver conceded his side were second best in their play-off first leg defeat to AFC Fylde but insisted the tables could still be turned in Sunday's reverse clash.
Danny Rowe's 53rd minute goal handed Fylde a slender advantage at half-time in the two-legged National League North semi-final last night.
Fylde had the better of the opportunities throughout the clash but Peter Crook was inspirational between the sticks to keep Town's promotion dream alive.
Town's best chance came in the opening seconds as Paul Clayton was denied from point blank range and the home side were unable to provide much for the 1,700-strong crowd to cheer.
“It was a tough night,” Weaver said.
“We started well in the first few minutes and missed a good chance that should have been hitting the back of the net.
“After that it balanced out and Crooky had to save us on a number of occasions
“He's kept us in it. That might just be the luck we need.”
The Wetherby Roaders now face an uphill task to overturn the deficit when travelling to the West Coast on Sunday.
Weaver called for a response from his players and said the pressure had now been lifted from their shoulders.
The boss said :“We will have to improve on our performance. There's reason to believe having been with the lads all season, there's more in the tank, and there's more ability than we showed.
“There were some nerves and we came up against a good team that played really well. Sometimes you just have to hold your hand up. As an attacking team they looked sharp.
Sunday is another day. I believe we will have had a good reaction.
“I'm sure Fylde wont be overconfident and will be professional. But we can treat it like a free hit now.
“The pressure is off. They were expected to win anyway and we can go there, enjoy ourselves and make the most of it.
“We have a good honest group. We've had a heck of a season and we want it to continue. We don't want to go down like a damp squib on Sunday.”
More than 1,500 Harrogate supporters crammed into the CNG Stadium to cheer Weaver's men on.
Weaver added: “It says that a lot of people have got it wrong when they say they don't think Harrogate is a footballing town.
“They are buying into it. I can't thank them enough for supporting us as a team and as a club.
“It's been a great season and we really want to make it happen. There was a bit of anxiety tonight to please the masses that turned up.
“That's frustrating for me. We haven't quite done it tonight but we will endeavour to do it and repay the faith.”
Rowe had scored 24 goals for Fylde over the course of the league campaign and was the obvious dangerman leading the line for the visitors.
In contrast, Town's goal machine Brendon Daniels was kept quiet on the left wing and was given little opportunity to let fly from distance.
Weaver kept faith with the 22-goal winger throughout as he opted to replace Joe Colbeck, targetman Paul Clayton and injured striker Jordan Thewlis.
Thewlis is almost certain to miss the reverse fixture after suffering a medial ligament injury in his knee.