Harrogate Town v Bristol Rovers: Simon Weaver taking Sulphurites back to basics to tighten up defence

Harrogate Town boss Simon Weaver is looking for his defenders to start nailing the basics as they aim to tighten up at the back ahead of Saturday’s clash with Bristol Rovers.

The Sulphurites have been excellent going forwards this term, but less impressive at the other end of the field, managing just two clean-sheets in 14 League Two outings.

They conceded three times in the space of seven minutes on their way to a 3-2 defeat at Hartlepool last time out, prompting their manager to describe them as a “soft touch defensively”.

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Now, Weaver is attempting to address the issues that he feels are costing his team in and around their own penalty area.

TIGHTENING UP: Simon Weaver is taking his defenders back to basics. Picture: Bruce Rollinson.

“We have to nail the fundamentals,” he said.

“At the end of the day, defenders are paid to defend. In the modern game it’s all about full-backs getting forward and providing width, but that side of it is a bonus for me. I don’t want our centre-halves to be left exposed too often. What we need, is to be safe at the back. We have to stop balls coming into our box and deal with them better when they do arrive.

“In Luke Armstrong and Jack Muldoon we’ve got two forwards who are sniffing out chances and that’s a big factor in us being the top-scorers in the division. But at the other end, we’ve only got the 14th-best defensive record.

Last weekend’s defeat at Pools leaves Town without a victory in three matches. Saturday’s visitors’ own recent form is similarly sketchy, Rovers having won just one of their last six in League Two, not that Weaver will be underestimating them.

He said: “They’re a big club at this level, they’ve got a lot of EFL experience and some real quality in their side.”