A Season Of Hope Begins
It was finally here, the day I was waiting for, well the day everyone was waiting for, the world was waiting for Saturday 8th August, whether it be for Man United to kick-off their season or for FC United to, the world was waiting. The players sat in the dressing room, patiently waiting to head out and then walk onto the Wetherby Road turf, it wasn't what they dreamed of perhaps, but they still loved being on that turf. Of course I told them what I planned on telling them, everyone was excited and extremely motivated, which was great and we were ready. The players soon led out onto the pitch and the whistle blew for the first half to begin, the fans began chanting and that's when I knew it had begun.
It was going to be a tough test - we'd not played Corby for many years and the style of play had obviously changed since we lasted battled them and along with this we didn't know what to expect, a newly promoted side can really shock you, that's the joy of football. They started with great pace, passing the ball round confidently and with great ease, "Get stuck in!" I screamed from the touchline and with that we attempted to win the ball back, however they were just too quick, the sheer pace they could get the ball to spray around was amazing and after just six minutes they had tested our keeper, Jon Stewart several times. We did have sparks in the game for sure as our wingers, Joe Colbeck and Nathan Luscombe used their pace and skills to cut inside and then have an attempt on goal, however their keeper was in great form, like ours and managed to keep them out. Then a real blow happened, as one of their players attempted to play a through ball behind the defence, Lloyd Kerry came flying in with his studs up and the referee quickly ran to him and pulled out a red card and I couldn't complain, it was a poor tackle from the 27 year old, however nothing else happened in the first half and it was 0-0 at the break, but despite the rather poor performance the fans continued to sing through the duration of the first half and that kept the morale up a bit.
I was a little disappointed at half-time because the players weren't really giving 100% and weren't playing their best football like we wanted them too, the fans and myself both wanted three points to start the campaign because it would give us something to build on ahead of the future games against Brackley and Chorley. "Keep your heads up," I said passionately, "We just need a bit more of an improvement and a bit more passion and we'll soon be in front, use the fans motivation as a way of making the desire come out if you understand, yeah?" Everyone nodded and clapped and a chorus of "C'mon Harrogate," was shouted by all the squad.
The second half got underway and once again the fans began to sing and the passion was in the players eyes again, I was confident and even with ten men I believed we could push on and get the points, but my hopes dissolved rather quickly, once again the referee pulled out a card and it was another red card shown to new signing Nathan Luscombe who came in from behind and once again was rightly sent off, that's when we all knew our chances were a lot slimmer.
The visitors battered our goal, keeping the keeper busy, however could not find a break through. The fans were getting impatient with us and I could see why, after 66 minutes they'd collected 12 shots to our 4, it was very disappointing and something had to change, I threw on striker Paul Beesley who replaced the popular figure of Dominic Knowles and within two minute it had worked a treat as he made a strong run into the box, as he waited for the ball to be whipped in from the left hand side, a brilliant cross came in from Colbeck and there was only one outcome, a goal, Beesley celebrated sending the fans into celebration, it was slightly undeserved but we took our chance.
What we did deserve though was more chances thrown at us, the defence had almost been non-existent and they'd really let the team down and Corby finally got the goal they deserved in the 71st minute, Tommy Wright scoring it after a shot from the edge of the box was fired into the top left hand corner, out of the reach of the superb goalkeeper. We knew that now we just needed to hang on, everyone was very tired and with no real efforts from us, it was just about surviving, the fans were rather unhappy, you could here it in their voices, "Rubbish! Absolute rubbish Harrogate!" I knew they had a point, a very strong one.
We reached the 90th minute and the tannoy rung out shouting, "There will be 7 minutes added time, 7 minutes," everyone just sighed and shouted "Watch us blow it!" The team had been poor and the tired legs showed as Corby bundled one in in the final minute of stoppage time, I was frustrated and turned away and sat down because I knew if I didn't I may of done something I'd regret and the fans weren't happy either, "For f*ck sake," I heard many shout and rightly so, we'd thrown it away. The whistle went, Harrogate Town 1-2 Corby Town and the tannoy rung out once again, "Thank you for your support here at Wetherby Road, today's attendance 455, we hope to see you here on Saturday the 16th of August where we take on Chorley."
As I and the players took to the dressing room, I couldn't keep the frustration in, "What was that performance? Where was the passion? I saw it for about 2 minute in the second half and it just went! We need to improve from this if we want to gain promotion because I can tell you one thing, if we play like this, we'll be going down rather than up!" I weren't going to hold back, I needed to be aggressive and drum it into the players, everyone left angry and annoyed with themselves, but rightly so, we can't play like that, it's not what the fans want to see at all.