Town boss Simon Weaver is hoping to continue the unbeaten start to 2024 as Harrogate host 21st placed Colchester at the Envirovent Stadium on Saturday.
“I’ve been delighted with the form in recent weeks, and we hope to continue obviously against tricky opponents in Colchester at the weekend”.
Weaver was quick to focus on the 3-1 home defeat Colchester inflicted upon Town in January last year, as well as the threat they could pose coming off the back of a hard-fought draw last week.
“There are no easy games at all home or away, Colchester had a great result against us last year at home, where we were under par in certain situations, and we must be better this time around. They fought back last week against Forest Green and got themselves into a really good position. It’s going to be a difficult proposition.”
“We’re going to try to continue to play our style of football and commit to that and hopefully we can find opportunities to score ourselves and we have to be mindful that they have some very good players”.
Harrogate come into this one off the back of an extremely respectable 1-1 draw away to the league leaders Stockport. Town were leading in that game and when asked if positives could still be taken from the result, Weaver said:
“To be fair to the players I treated that one like it was a win, they are the league leaders possibly going to be champions, they had 10,000 fans behind them. We came away heartened by producing a real good performance in both halves not just the first half which was very strong, and we took the game to Stockport.”
“Obviously there were times when we had to defend and be stoic and very hard to beat. That’s the way we have to continue to be if we want to keep accumulating points”.
The previous meeting with Colchester ended in a 2-1 victory for Town, Weaver was asked if there were anything that could be taken form the previous exchange to help prolong Town’s new year form.
“We must judge each game on merit, as I said they have some strong players that are Buoyed with confidence after a couple of points in the last two games, we know that they will come out of themselves and become less inhibited.”
“They are fighting for points and so are we must make sure we take focus and don’t get ahead ourselves and enjoy the moment, but we tend to only enjoy the moment if we keep progressing and enjoying the efforts of everyone involved. So, although it is a hard game, we are looking to please the home fans and keep progressing.”
Having initially struggled to maintain a consistent run of home results, Weaver’s men have been more spirited at home following a standout comeback performance against Wrexham in November and come into the Colchester match having won three of the last four home games.
Saturday’s meeting ends a run of three consecutive away fixtures, and this is ample opportunity for Town to return home and continue this good run-in in front of an optimistic Envirovent crowd.
“Looking back that (Wrexham result) was a big turning point for the home support because that was at 2-0 down so they enjoyed the way we wanted to play, the fighting spirit and resilience we have to show in every game and from there it’s been a continuation of that.”
“But last week when we scored the first goal at Stockport, the noise from the away end was very memorable, it was up there with the moments of this season.”
“What we want to do is generate that for the home fans on Saturday but entertain and do our best to keep entertaining. As everyone knows this is a very tough league and any point has to be well deserved.”
Weaver also took the time to outline how impressed he has been with the output and development of Matty Daly, who recently hit double figures of assists for the season.
“I think it’s important for us to recognise Matty as in my opinion one of our most creative players. He has certainly progressed his own game and that is down to dedication.”
“He looks a yard quicker than last year; he looks stronger physically, he is approaching those mid-twenties time in his career, and I am expecting continual progression from him.
“He is a player that is really developing and probably confidence and flow of games helps but he deserves those opportunities and he’s grabbing it. He is in the moment and his skill from either foot in terms of ball manipulation creates opportunities for him and his teammates which is exciting to watch.”
Weaver was asked about team selection following a good debut from new signing Derrick Abu at Stockport, the near miss for Toby Sims who was out injured and the return of Matty Foulds.
“Well, I am hoping they will be fit for selection, we will have to see the outcome of today’s training which will be little more intense than tomorrows so it will tell us a lot by the end of play today.
“Abraham Odoh took a bad knock last week so that will be really touch and go this week. We don’t want to risk him ahead of Mansfield if he is nowhere near fit, so we have got to make sure he is okay.
“It was great that Foulds came back into the team, we needed him because we were going to be short on numbers, but he was outstanding again for the club and we hope that Toby (Sims) in the next couple of days will be in contention for a start.”
Finally, Weaver was asked if added precautions will be taken with Town playing Mansfield the following Tuesday in terms of freshness in the squad for both upcoming fixtures.
“They should be fresh…they get Sunday Monday off again and Wednesday, so they are fresh and raring to go. I am not going to be overly academic about the overloading and underloading of players I think we have a feel-good factor and plenty of rest with the consideration of how hard they work in training everybody is raring to go and fighting for a spot.”
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