League Two’s first Yorkshire derby of the season takes place this afternoon (1pm) as the Bantams visit Wetherby Road aiming to avenge home and away defeats to Simon Weaver’s men in 2020/21.
A bumper crowd and lively atmosphere are expected inside the EnviroVent Stadium, and while the Sulphurites will be going all out to give their fans a taste of what it is like to beat their local rivals first hand, club captain Falkingham says there is a bigger agenda at play.
“Obviously Saturday is a big derby game, we’re expecting a massive crowd and a really good atmosphere,” the 31-year-old midfielder said.
“We will be looking to add to the success we had against them behind closed doors last season, but this time do it in front of the supporters. However, the biggest thing for us is trying to build on a good performance and a positive result against Mansfield on Tuesday. We need to back that up and find some consistency.
“As players, we have been hurt by some of the recent results, but it is up to us to take responsibility and turn things around, starting on Saturday. There are still 20 games to play and you’ve seen the difference that consistency can make when you look at Mansfield and the run they’ve been on after the way they started the season.
“We’ve proven that we’re good enough to put a sequence of results together, we did it during the first 10-15 games, so there’s no reason why we can’t do that again and see if we can make the last part of the season interesting.”
City head to North Yorkshire 11th in the League Two standings, three points and three places above Town, who currently occupy 14th spot.
A return of just two victories in nine means that Simon Weaver’s men now find themselves nine points off the play-offs, though Falkingham remains confident that a top-seven finish is still attainable.
“There’s still plenty of time left in the season and I 100 per cent believe that the quality is there in our squad,” Harrogate’s skipper added.
“And we’ve got a positive group, a good set of lads and a strong changing room. So, even though we’ve had some bad results recently, we know we’ll get through it and come through the other side.
“We know it’s not going to be easy and nothing is given to you in this league, but like I’ve already said, we showed at the start of the season that we are capable of putting a sequence of wins together.
“It’s going to be a question of digging deep because we are heading towards the business end of the season. It might not end up being pretty, and although we want to try and play good football, what matters from here on in is that we get the results we need.”
Harrogate’s cause isn’t helped by the fact that their experienced ex-Bantams centre-half Rory McArdle hurt his groin against Mansfield in midweek and is unlikely to be able to face his former club. Fellow defender Lewis Richards is also set to miss out.