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Simon Weaver thrilled with Harrogate progress despite play-off hopes ending

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 20 Apr 2024

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Harrogate manager Simon Weaver believes the club have made “massive strides” this season despite seeing their play-off hopes extinguished by a 5-3 home defeat by MK Dons.

The Sulphurites have, nevertheless, racked up a club-record number of EFL points in a campaign since their 2020 promotion and are also guaranteed to finish in their highest position.

A brace from 18-goal leading marksman George Thomson, following Abraham Odoh’s opener, proved insufficient as the visitors secured maximum points thanks to efforts from Alex Gilbey, Max Dean, Stephen Wearne, Emre Tezgel and Ellis Harrison.

Weaver said: “It was a crazy game really.

“To see the first goal go in after 30 minutes and then have so many after that and it could have been even more with the number of times we hit the woodwork. We looked very good going forward but we made some poor decisions defensively.

“But I can still take a lot of pride from playing such a great style of football throughout and creating so many chances against a good team who almost went up automatically. We have made massive strides this season without a doubt.”

Weaver is also running out of superlatives for talismanic 31-year-old skipper Thomson, adding: “He’s been immense this season and played an integral role for us throughout. You can just feel his presence on the pitch.

“He’s a good leader out there and on the training ground and he’s capable of scoring goals from all angles at the moment.”

The visitors were already guaranteed a play-off place prior to kick-off but Dons boss Mike Williamson hailed his team’s character after coming back from behind twice.

He also pointed to the squad’s strength in depth after Gilbey and Dean were replaced at half-time by Wearne and Harrison, who also found the net.

“I enjoyed the game because it was a good spectacle, especially for the neutral,” Williamson declared.

“It showed us we still have things to work on and it was a performance we can learn a lot from and that’s always the case when you’re in that relentless pursuit of excellence.

“But when things click we also look unstoppable. We know how good the boys are and they respond to every setback they have because they are an unbelievable group.

“I made changes and we are at a level now where competition is very good. Everyone who came into the team and on as a substitute was excellent.

“We want to breed a winning mentality and we’ll now sit down and discuss what we do for the next game, have a hard week’s training and make sure we keep up our momentum and confidence levels and keep improving in every moment.”

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