Harrogate Town: Beating Bradford City can be building block in our season, believes Jack Diamond

Plenty was said in the Harrogate Town camp ahead of Saturday’s derby showdown with Bradford City about the importance of them building on their midweek point against Mansfield. And the Sulphurites did exactly that on a soaking wet, blustery afternoon at Wetherby Road, following up their goalless draw with the Stags with a 2-0 success over their Yorkshire rivals.
Harrogate Town's Jack Diamond celebrates his goal against Bradford City. Picture: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town's Jack Diamond celebrates his goal against Bradford City. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town's Jack Diamond celebrates his goal against Bradford City. Picture: Matt Kirkham

A run of just one win in eight League Two matches prior to this weekend has seen Simon Weaver’s men plummet down the table, leaving them in desperate need of some consistency if they are to have any chance of reviving their play-off ambitions.

They certainly did not have things all their own way against the Bantams, but according to two-goal winger Jack Diamond, this much-needed victory represents a big step in the right direction.

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“This result can be massive and give us a lot of confidence going forwards, especially after the draw against Mansfield in the last game,” said the on-loan Sunderland winger.

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Picture: Matt Kirkham

“That was a similar type of match and we’ve built on that really well today. So, as long as we can keep building, we are only going to go one way.

“Obviously it’s not always going to be win, win, win, but as long as we keep improving and keep making sure the performances are good then we can do well.

“I think the most important change has been that we’re not conceding. We’ve always seemed to be able to score goals but sometimes we’ve conceded bad goals – and that’s the whole team, not just the defence.

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“So, I think as a whole, all of the team has got a bit better defensively. It’s been very, very important.

“We knew what kind of game it was going to be against Bradford, we knew that we would have to win the battle for our quality to come out in the end and that is exactly how it played out.”

Harrogate goalkeeper Mark Oxley was required to make a trio of excellent stops to keep the hosts on terms, but having soaked up everything their visitors had to throw at them, they then went down the other end and netted twice in quick succession.

They took the lead on 62 minutes when Alex Pattison fed Diamond on the left-hand edge of the City area and his effort across the face of goal deflected off Oscar Threlkeld and into the away net.
The 22-year-old then wrapped things up in the 71st minute after breaking from just inside the Bradford half and driving down the centre of the pitch before dispatching a composed low strike beyond Alex Bass.

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“It felt great,” Diamond said of the moment he found the back of the net to break the deadlock.

“The first one was definitely a shot and I’m claiming it 100 per cent.

“We’re always dangerous on the counter-attack with the pace we have got, I just tried to drive forwards for the second one and it was an enjoyable goal because it gave us the two-goal cushion. It meant a lot.

“It was difficult with the conditions, but both teams had to deal with them and maybe we dealt with them better because I feel like we deserved the win.

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“They had chances but once we got the first goal we were in control.”

City boss Derek Adams’s take on the afternoon’s events was somewhat different, the Scotsman using his post-match media duties to attempt to ram home the point that, in his opinion, the Bantams played far better than their hosts.

“Today, on the pitch, we were better than Harrogate Town,” he insisted as he reflected on a third game without a victory.

“Harrogate didn’t deserve to win the match, nobody can say that they did because we had better opportunities over the 90 minutes. The first-half performance and into the second half, we were better than Harrogate. We created some really good opportunities. 

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“Harrogate had no shots on goal in that first half, they had three shots on goal in the whole game and got the two goals. 

“We’ve dominated for large spells. We looked very good defensively, we didn’t allow Harrogate any opportunities and when they did get an opportunity we were 1-0 down after the deflection goes in. We had to chase the game after that, but we should have been ahead before then.”

Continuing in a similar vein, Adams did break off briefly to praise Harrogate goalkeeper Oxley for his performance, though only in an attempt to back up the point he was so desperately trying to make about how City “controlled” proceedings.

He added: “Their goalkeeper was outstanding, man of the match today. Three unbelievable saves which he had no right to make, but over the afternoon we’re just not getting a break.

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“We’ve created enough opportunities to win the game. They are very good opportunities and I’ve got to say that their goalkeeper made some really good saves and that has kept them in the match.

“We really should be winning this game with the dominance we had when you’re going toe-to-toe with the opposition and dominating the opposition and dealing with the threats they have away from home and creating good opportunities.”

Opposite number Weaver concurred on Oxley, admitting “he put in a fine performance, he kept us in it,” but that was about the only thing which Adams said that the Harrogate chief did agree with. “They had their moments, but we had ours too. We deserved the win, because we ran through their midfield today.”

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