Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver reacts to 9-2 defeat at League Two rivals Mansfield Town

HARROGATE TOWN boss Simon Weaver said his players needed to learn quickly from the harsh lessons handed out by a rampant Mansfield Town as the Sulphurites were hammered 9-2 at Field Mill.

Nigel Clough’s men were 5-0 up and out of sight by half-time on Tuesday night as they equalled their score against Rotherham in 1932 to close in on top spot in League Two.

For Harrogate it was a shock to the system, Weaver’s team having only just lifted themselves into the play-off places at the weekend after a scintillating run of form which had seen them lose just one of their previous 10 matches.

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But Weaver refused to be too critical of his players for that very reason, while paying tribute to the quality produced by their Nottinghamshire hosts.

TOUGHN NIGHT: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpeTOUGHN NIGHT: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
TOUGHN NIGHT: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

“It was an incredible scoreline for Mansfield and, fair play to them, I thought they were brilliant in all aspects,” said Weaver. “We were well beaten by the better team. But, in spite of that, we still have everything to go for if we have a positive attitude.

“I am not going to batter them as the lads have been absolutely magnificent for this club for several months. We have been hard to beat all season, we’ve been entertaining, we’ve been everything that we want to see from a Harrogate Town team. But tonight we weren’t.

“So we have to treat it as a one-off and move on quickly. But we also have to learn from the harsh lessons that were dealt by a really strong Mansfield team.

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“We didn’t lay a glove on them which is not a characteristic of ours over the years. But we mustn’t suddenly rip up the way we’ve been playing.”

Lucas Akins began the rout with an 11th-minute penalty before Hiram Boateng fired home the second on 20 minutes.

Davis Keillor-Dunn set up Boateng for his second and Tom Nichols tucked home a fourth before teeing up Keillor-Dunn to net his 16th goal of the season.

Stephen Quinn laid on Boateng’s hat-trick goal from six yards on 50 minutes before Harrogate hit back with two in just over a minute as George Thomson finished off a fast break and Abraham Odoh scored after Josh March’s effort came back off a post.

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But Akins’ 61st-minute shot deflected in and then sub Will Swan smashed in a spectacular eighth on 75 minutes, before turning home an Aaron Lewis cross two minute later.

Clough was understandably delighted with his team’s performance, which saw them close the gap on leaders Stockport County to just one point with 15 games remaining.

But he was also quick to praise the professionalism of Harrogate, who kept battling in trying circumstances.

“I think most teams in the league would have struggled to cope with us,” said Clough. “It might sound silly, but the only thing that stopped us scoring more was the professionalism of the opposition as they kept going.

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“For a team to go 6-0 down away from home and score two goals says an awful lot about their character as well.

“We were extremely clinical in our finishing. I don’t think their goalie had a chance with any of them all night."