Harrogate boss Simon Weaver praised his team’s character and ability as they leapt into the top half of League Two following a 2-1 home win over Accrington.
For the first time since August 2021, Harrogate secured maximum points after conceding the opening goal at their Wetherby Road ground with George Thomson’s stoppage-time effort sealing victory after he had set up Jack Muldoon’s equaliser to cancel out Jack Nolan’s second-half opener for the visitors.
The victory ended a run of four straight defeats against Stanley for the Sulphurites, dating back to the clubs’ Unibond League days in 2002/03, with a delighted Weaver hailing a “perfect Christmas” following a third league win on the bounce.
He said: “We always knew it would be a testing game. Accrington have a great squad of players, with a talented youthful look about them and a smattering of good experience so, to turn things around from 1-0 down, makes it a perfect Christmas.
“We showed character and ability to keep level-headed when we were losing the game and we fought back well. I thought we played terrifically well in the first half without scoring.
“They then picked their game up in the second half and it was disappointing to go behind, but we worked so hard to turn the result back in our favour.
“It was a great moment to see Thommo get the winner, too, after it had just been announced that he was the man of the match.”
Weaver added further praise for goalkeeper James Belshaw, who has featured in all three victories since returning to the club on an emergency loan deal from Bristol Rovers.
“They had an opportunity at the end from a (Brad Hills) free header and I thought it was in, but he made a fantastic save,” he said.
Accrington boss John Coleman reasoned that his players paid the price for uncharacteristically going to “sleep” at two set-pieces, but argued his team’s overall performance merited greater reward.
He said: “It’s frustrating to lose to a late goal, but we’ve got to be positive about how we played. We absolutely dominated the second half and deservedly went 1-0 up.
“I couldn’t see them scoring at that point with the way we were pinning them back. But a cheap free-kick was given and we have defended set-plays really well this season, so I was very disappointed to concede one the way we did.
“We then had a great chance in injury time but their keeper has made a great save, so it could have been us leaving the pitch with a win.
“Instead, we conceded a free-kick, which was definitely a foul, and went to sleep again with nobody picking up their man at the back post.
“Two free-kicks have ended up hurting us, but I don’t think even the most-biased Harrogate fan would say they deserved to win the game on the balance of play.”