Harrogate Town v Scunthorpe United: Painful memories driving on Simon Weaver

Bouquets have been rightfully bestowed in the direction of Harrogate Town again this week.

Fortunately, any vestiges of complacency should be well and truly out of the equation today.

Life is rosy for Simon Weaver’s side, who sit four points behind league leaders Forest Green ahead of today’s game with a struggling Iron outfit and have qualified for the knock-out stages of the Papa John’s Trophy.

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Beaten just once in 10 league games so far this term – and unbeaten in six home matches in all competitions – Harrogate face a Scunthorpe side who have lost five of their last six games in the league and Trophy and are winless on the road so far in 2021-22.

Harrogate's Danilo Orsi celebrates making it 2-0 against Newcastle United in the midweek EFL Trophy tie. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

It is the sort of match-up pitting two sides separated in the table by 22 places and at opposite ends of the form spectrum, that often leads to managers such as Weaver to trot out the old mantra about it being a banana skin.

The Harrogate chief elected not to do that and with good reason ahead of today’s encounter.

Iron may currently prop up League Two, but did a number on the Sulphurites on two occasions last term.

Iron thrashed Town 5-2 at the EnviroVent Stadium last December – with a late consolation from the hosts giving the scoreline a touch more respectability – and followed up with a 3-1 triumph in the reverse fixture at Glanford Park in February.

It should ensure that home players, certainly those involved in both games, will definitely not be complacent today or require much of a team-talk either. It is called useful motivation.

Weaver said: “Obviously, in the back of your mind, you are aware that they well and truly beat us twice last year and it stays with you and we want to do better than that.

“This weekend, we have got a chance of coming out of it looking a better team than we were last year.”

Aaron Martin, Alex Pattison and Simon Power – who did not feature in the midweek win over Newcastle United Under-21s in the Papa John’s Trophy – are being assessed ahead of the today’s game.

Meanwhile, Danilo Orso, who took his tally to four goals in the Trophy by getting on the scoresheet in the 2-0 victory on Tuesday, has been given encouragement by Weaver in his quest to make a statement on the league front.

The Town chief added: “He had a quiet spell in that game due to circumstances, but there was an air of inevitability that he was going to bury that chance.

“It is superb knowing he is primed and ready. He can probably think of himself as unlucky not to have started more games yet, but I know he is ready and able and has got quality when he is going to be called.”

With no local matches either in the Premier League or EFL vying for supporters’ attentions today, Harrogate officials are hopeful of attracting a big gate for today’s match, boosted by a sizeable travelling contingent from Scunthorpe, who will make the comparatively short trip over from North Lincolnshire.

You have to go back to March 2 for Iron’s last victory on their travels, a 1-0 success at Cambridge United, but while the form book at least points to a home victory today, Neil Cox’s side were somewhat unfortunate to be on the receiving end of a 4-1 defeat at more Yorkshire hosts in Rotherham United in the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday night.

Candid Millers chief Paul Warne admitted that scoreline flattered his side in a game when the man-of-the-match honours went to home goalkeeper Josh Vickers.

It was a night which saw goalscorer Ryan Loft impress, just as he did in scoring twice against Harrogate last term.

Weaver commented: “We are playing pretty well. We could have played better last week, but we found a way to win, which is great and played really well on Tuesday and just have to keep the momentum moving forward.

“Scunthorpe have got very good players.

“They have got a goalscorer in Loft, who has come back in and he did some damage against us last year and we pay every respect to how they play and they will be up for the battle.

“Scunthorpe are bringing 900-plus (fans) to fill that away end and we are hoping that the Town fans are right behind us in their numbers this weekend and I am sure that they will be.”

Last six games: Harrogate DLDDWW; Scunthorpe LLDLLL.

Referee: T Bramall (Sheffield).

Last time: Harrogate 2 Scunthorpe 5, December 1, 2020; League Two.