Gainsborough defeat was the turning point for us defensively, says Garner

FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town. Scott Garner
FC Halifax Town v Harrogate Town. Scott Garner
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Scott Garner believes Town’s defensive woes at Gainsborough were the catalyst for their recent watertight form at the back.

Halifax’s 3-2 defeat at the Conference North strugglers on September 13 was the fifth time they had conceded two or more goals in their first 11 matches.

But since then, The Shaymen have conceded just once in four games going into Saturday’s FA Cup fourth qualifying round clash at Harrogate.

“Gainsborough was a bad night,” he said. “We dropped three points there - you can’t look at it any other way.

“It was disappointing for us as a team.

“As a centre-back it really hurt to concede three goals at a team we expected to beat.

“But we knuckled down, said “it’s not happening again” and everyone has dug in defensively.

“I’d say that and the Harrogate game are our worst two performances of the season.

“So I’m looking forward to putting that right (at Harrogate on Saturday), and they’ll probably think we’re not as good as we are based on that.

“It’s on a 3G pitch, which I’ve never played on before competitively.

“It’ll be interesting to see how it goes.

“But I’m hoping to go on a good run in the cup. I’ve never really gone too far in the cup before and you don’t get many chances.”

A new state-of-the-art 3G pitch was installed at Harrogate’s stadium in July as part of a £1m ground development.

The National League Premier voted to approve 3G pitches in January, with fellow Conference North side Tamworth also playing on a 3G pitch.

However, the Football League has yet to accept clubs with artificial surfaces

“I don’t know why it’s been allowed in competitive games at this level,” Garner said.

“If you’re a defender and you’re going in for a last-ditch sliding tackle sliding on the ground, are you going to end up with a burn on your leg?

“I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but we just have to give it our best shot.

“It gives an advantage to them to be able to play on it all the time, but we have to adapt as well as we can and give it everything we’ve got.”

Garner says the Town defence has now tightened up after being far too generous earlier in the campaign.

“We were conceding too many goals,” he said. “We were scoring two away from home but not getting result - when you score that many away from home, you expect to win games.

“Everything seemed to go against us, half-chances always went in.

“Even at the start of the season, they weren’t good goals from other teams.

“They weren’t coming up with good football, it was down to our sloppy mistakes and you’d think “how has that gone in?”

“Teams were having six or seven chances, but it’s now maybe two or three and those half chances aren’t going in now.

“We know each others game as a team now and we’ve got three clean sheets out of four.”

Garner’s overall assessment of Town’s season so far is a positive one.

“I think it’s gone really well,” he added.

“Obviously we brought in a lot of new players and it takes time for everyone to gel but results are coming through now and we’re getting some momentum.

“We’re looking good and playing some good football at times.

“If a team is physical with us, we can handle that as well.

“On a personal level, I’m pleased to have played every game as well.”