Simon Weaver believes 'ominous' Harrogate Town made breakthrough with display against Swindon Town

Jack Muldoon put Harrogate Town back on level terms. Image: Bruce Rollinson
Jack Muldoon put Harrogate Town back on level terms. Image: Bruce Rollinson

To outsiders, the 1-1 home draw with Swindon Town may have appeared unremarkable. After all, Swindon have not won in over a month.

To those inside the compact and atmospheric EnviroVent Stadium, however, it was another sign the Sulphurites are making headway.

Harrogate have looked sheepish on home turf this season but their display against the Robins was more lion-like - boisterous and threatening.

It was an admirable performance that followed an impressive win over Walsall, which itself was a continuation of the second-half resurgence against Crewe Alexandra.

Speaking after the draw, Weaver said: “We had plenty of opportunities to score.

“Some games early on in the season, you’re thinking ‘we didn’t ask enough questions in front of goal, we weren’t dangerous, it wasn’t ominous’.

“We looked ominous throughout. We always had an out ball, we had bodies in the box. It was just that killer touch.

“We could’ve come away 3/4-1 today. But not to be. But it was important we got a point and a performance.”

Swindon opened the scoring in spectacular fashion. Jake Young, on loan from Harrogate’s Yorkshire neighbours Bradford City, rendered Jonathan Mitchell helpless with a long-range stunner.

It was a cruel blow dealt to the hosts, who had started brightly, but they were not to be deterred.

A neat exchange between Sam Folarin and Abraham Odoh allowed the ball to be worked to Jack Muldoon, who rifled home to put Harrogate back on level terms.

Harrogate’s goalscorer has been a key to the club’s rise in recent years, and in many ways embodies what is being built in North Yorkshire.

Weaver said: “He [Muldoon] always comes up with big moments.

"I just think with his energy, and what we're trying to do, connect with the fans, it's important [to have] players like Mullers with his energy.

"He scores one minute, he's running back at 34 the next minute getting in the right-back spot, getting a block in.

"We knew [Udoka] Godwin-Malife, on the right hand side of the three, travels with the ball.

"He’s a proper athlete, he did it at Forest Green, and he didn’t today, because the defensive side, the left winger, can put in. And then he finishes his chance exquisitely.

"I couldn’t be more overjoyed for him because he is a player who if left out, keeps on smiling.”

Neither side were willing to sit back and play for a point, therefore the encounter remained breathless all the way into the dying embers.

Weaver is not the kind of manager to get carried away, despite his lofty ambitions for the club he has led since 2009.

His side missed a myriad of opportunities to put Swindon to the sword and it is clear there remains room for improvement.

It was not Folarin’s day in front of goal but Weaver remains a firm believer in the forward’s ability to lead the Sulphurites line.

He said: “He’s capable of it, as he’s shown so far, he’s [our] top goal scorer.

“I really do believe in Sam, it might not have come off for him today, a couple finishes, but it happens to the best. [I’m] absolutely delighted [with his progress].

“He’s a great lad as well, and the lads love him in there. It’s good to see a good lad develop his game and develop his stamina. He’s exciting.

“You can hear the fans sing his name, I’ve always tried to get an exciting player in the team and I think we’ve got a few.”

Harrogate’s home form has been the subject of much derision and they still have just two home wins under their belts.

It has been a cause of frustration for fans but they appeared impressed by what they saw against Swindon.

Weaver said: “I was frustrated first-half because I thought ‘we’ve been really good and we’re going in 1-0 down again’. But the fans stuck with us because I thought they were entertained.

“I think that’s what we’ve always done here, is try to entertain.

"You could feel a bit of confidence seeping away [across precious home games] but we’ve put that right today, got right on the front foot.

“We pressed a bit higher and we showed that we can do that.”

Harrogate have been dogged by inconsistency this season and it is the reason they sit in mid-table obscurity, comfortably clear of the relegation zone but frustratingly far from the promotion picture.

Weaver believes his side have made a breakthrough, one that fans will hope pushes Harrogate out of the middle ground and in the right direction.

He said: "I want to keep pushing on, I want to get in that next bracket, next calibre of teams, and I think we’re capable. We’ve done great away from home but at home, we’ve played within ourselves and been inhibited.

“Today was a breakthrough, and I thought the second-half against Crewe [Alexandra] was a breakthrough. Today, we added to that.

“We’ve got the response from the crowd. They’re turning out in their numbers. It’s certainly growing and the atmosphere’s growing. I’m just delighted for them.”

Harrogate Town: Mitchell, Ramsay, O’Connor, McDonald, Foulds; Cornelius (Sutton 82), Dooley; Thomson, Odoh, Muldoon; Folarin.

Unused substitutes: Thomas, Burrell, Gibson, Falkingham, Horbury, Sivi.

Swindon Town: Mahoney, Hutton, Goodwin-Malife, Blake-Tracy, Minturn, Kokolo; Kinsella (Dworzak 82), Khan, Kemp; Young, Austin.

Unused substitutes: Ward, Genesini, Brown, Hart, Hubbard.

Referee: Jacob Miles (Sussex)