Harrogate Town lavished with praise from Simon Weaver after performance at Stockport County

SIMON WEAVER said he could “lavish praise” on every one of his Harrogate Town players after watching them hold League Two leaders Stockport County to a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

The Sulphurites extended their unbeaten start to 2024 with what their manager described as a “good point” at Edgeley Park, inching a step closer to the League Two play-off places in the process.

Dean Cornelius’ close-range finish following a superb bit of play by Matty Daly and saw the visitors rewarded for a bright start with 16 minutes on the clock.

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Connor Lemonheigh-Evans levelled matters on the half-hour mark and it was County who had the better chances to go on and win the game, though the second half was from one-way traffic.

PROUD: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan GawthorpePROUD: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
PROUD: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

And Weaver insisted that his side deserve credit for serving up a display which saw them play plenty of “slick” football, rather than simply defending their 18-yard-box in a hostile environment against opponents whom he labelled as “champions-elect” pre-match.

"It’s a good point against the league leaders and I am proud of the application of the lads,” the Town boss said. “Everyone carried out their roles really well, I could lavish praise throughout the team

“From start to finish, I thought that we were fully committed. Committed to the way that we are trying to play, and also in our own box, where we had to defend for spells, which you would expect against the league leaders, who I think are a terrific team.

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"I do feel proud of the overall performance, it wasn’t just backs to the wall, we showed that we are very competent in our style of play.

ON TARGET: Harrogate Town's Dean Cornelius Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTDON TARGET: Harrogate Town's Dean Cornelius Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD
ON TARGET: Harrogate Town's Dean Cornelius Picture: Andrew Roe/AHPIX LTD

"When you come here, the crowd give their team great backing and you have to handle that noise and stay calm, but it’s not easy. It asks questions psychologically, but we kept trying to build from the back, were committed to the game-plan and caused them some problems.

"When we passed it, when we were at our best, we looked slick. It’s attractive to watch and we’re proud of that."

Cornelius’ opener arrived after he reacted sharply to keep the ball in play after George Thomson’s strike from outside the box had been pushed away by Stockport goalkeeper Ben Hinchliffe.

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From close to the byline, the Scottish midfielder found Jack Muldoon out on the left, and he in turn moved the ball infield to George Thomson, who threaded a pass into the penalty area for Daly.

Harrogate’s number 10 then turned expertly to open up sufficient space for him to roll a pass across the face of goal, presenting Cornelius with an empty net to side-foot into.

"It was a memorable goal that we scored, it’s just a shame that we conceded not too long afterwards,” added Weaver, who was particularly thrilled with Cornelius’ contribution.

"It was a great goal. I said to Dean before the game ‘I think you’re due a goal and I feel it’s coming today’.

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"I just had a feeling that he might score. He was in the box again and I just think that he has got so much in his locker.

"He’s racing back on recovery runs, making sliding tackles at one end, but then getting on the half-turn, being creative and ending up in the box.

"It was a real box-to-box performance. He is a proper number eight, a proper player.”

Saturday’s result means that Town are unbeaten in five games and have now lost just one of their previous 10 league outings, a run which has seen them record six victories and elevated them to eighth-place in the table.

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They now sit level on points with Notts County, who occupy the division’s last play-off berth.

Stockport County: Hinchliffe, Southam-Hales (Touray 45), Horsfall, Wright, Bristow, Lemonheigh-Evans (Richards 77), Camps (Croasdale 65), Powell, Bailey (Sarcevic 65), Olaofe (Hippolyte 77), Madden. Unused substitutes: Byrne,Smith.

Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Abu, Gibson, Burrell, Foulds, Cornelius, Dooley (Sutton 78), Thomson, Daly, Odoh (Sivi 66), Muldoon. Unused substitutes: Bloxham, Mattock, Falkingham, Mitchell, March.

Referee: Ben Toner (Lancashire).