Harrogate Town fringe players can stake FA Cup place

Matt Bloomer will, like his Harrogate Town team-mates, will be seeking to secure a cup place when they face Hastings United in the second round of the FA Cup on December 1.
Matt Bloomer will, like his Harrogate Town team-mates, will be seeking to secure a cup place when they face Hastings United in the second round of the FA Cup on December 1.
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Simon Weaver has challenged Harrogate Town’s squad members to propel themselves into contention for the FA Cup second-round clash with Hastings United at the start of December.

Town are still basking in the glow of their tremendous round-one victory at League Two side Torquay United on Saturday, with Weaver’s troops now just one win away from a potential plum tie against the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool or neighbours Leeds United early in the new year.

Ahead of tackling Ryman Premier outfit Hastings, who for the second successive round visit opposition one level higher than them in the football pyramid –having beaten Bishop’s Stortford at the weekend – Town’s busy itinerary features six games, starting with tonight’s West Riding County Cup round two trip to Ossett Albion.

While Dimple Wells may be far removed from Plainmoor, there will be plenty of incentive for the likes of Dan Clayton, Liam Hardy, Jonny Allan and Matt Bloomer, set to take the field for the visitors this evening.

Weaver said: “The lads who were on the bench will all be playing, along with Josh Garbutt, who was ill at the weekend.

“Apart from Josh, they all have good experience of the first team and will all have a point to prove. They will be wanting to put pressure on those who have been playing in their places and say: ‘I am ready’.

“You never know, they might play their way into my plans with the cup tie around the corner. We want everyone to be in top condition for that.

“the motivation for the players should be making sure they are in the FA Cup team.”

The draw with Hastings – who, like Town, made history in reaching the second round of the cup for the first time on Saturday – may not be quite the glamour one that Weaver ideally wanted, but he is certainly grateful of being afforded home comforts.

Especially after a 640-mile round trip to Devon in round one, with Hastings the ones to hit the road for the December 1 tie in a lengthy journey to Yorkshire which is around 540 miles both ways.

But despite the travel element, Weaver insists it is a tie that both combatants will think they have a genuine chance of winning.

Former Sheffield Wednesday defender Weaver, who admitted his perfect draw would have seen Town pitted with Sheffield United, said: “At least, it’s at home. If we were away to Hastings, it would have been another long journey.

“We did the trip to Torquay and Hastings will think they can have a little go at us now. Both clubs will think they have a realistic chance of going through and we do not want to trip up on ourselves by thinking we are better than they are. We have just got to do a job and then we will be in dreamland if we get through.

“Once you have a bit of cup glory, you want a bit more. Saturday was a feather in our cap and it will hopefully push us on and the players on as well.

“From the replay against Hyde on Wednesday onwards, it’s just been non stop.

“I got up early on Sunday for my nephew’s birthday party at the ground and then the draw was made. After that, I went to Bridlington to watch a gig! But it’s been a great few days.”

Since losing 2-0 in a Blue Square North derby clash at Guiseley on September 18, incredibly Town have played only two league games and are already playing catch-up in a big way.

And while cups are playing centre stage at present, with Town visiting Vauxhall Motors in the FA Trophy this weekend, Weaver hopes their cup exploits will have a positive spin-off effect on their league progress.

He said: “We want to ride the crest of a wave as long as we can. But we do know that ultimately, we have to do well in the league.

“We have been doing well, but have just slipped behind, mainly through not playing for a while. It seems ages since the Brackley game.

“But fourth place seems catchable as some of the teams around there have played six more games than us.”

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