Harrogate Town getting the basics right before manager Simon Weaver looks for forward rewards

HARROGATE TOWN boss Simon Weaver hailed the defensive qualities of experienced duo Tom Eastman and Anthony O’Connor as his team kept only their second clean sheet in 18 League Two home contests.

Eastman and O’Connor, who boast more than 900 professional appearances between them, marshalled a strong rearguard action during a competitive 0-0 draw with Gillingham as both clubs continue to try and claw themselves away from the relegation zone.

The pair were recruited from Colchester on loan and Morecambe respectively during the January transfer window and Weaver said: “The two of them were awesome and I don’t think there will have been a better display from a centre-back pairing in our division today.

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“I’m proud to have got them because they were important signings for us. They were hurting after conceding three goals against Swindon last weekend when the distances between them were not right but, during the last two games, the whole defence looks like they are trusting each other that bit more.”

PLEASED: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver Picture: Pete Norton/Getty ImagesPLEASED: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images
PLEASED: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images

On his team’s overall efforts, the Suplhurites’ chief added: “We went for the win and I felt we edged things in terms of possession, territory and chances created.

“At this stage of the season with so much at stake, I think we can be forgiven for nailing the basics first and then building up the confidence. That means keeping clean sheets, being solid as units and keeping the messages simple.

“Then hopefully the wins and goals will follow but, for me, this was a valuable point. We just didn’t have the composure to stick the ball away.”

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Harrogate Town: Oxley, Sims, O'Connor, Eastman, Foulds, Grant (Pattison 75), Falkingham, Sutton (Thomson 87), Olaigbe, Muldoon (Daly 90), Armstrong. Unused substitutes: Mattock, Burrell, Folarin, Giles.

Gillingham: Morris, Alexander, Masterson, Ehmer, Tutonda, Dieng, Williams (MacDonald 69), Lapslie, O'Brien, Hawkins, Nichols. Unused substitutes: Wright, O'Keefe, Coleman, Turner, Abrahams.

Referee: Andy Haines (Tyne & Wear).