Harrogate Town suffered a 3-0 defeat at home to Leyton Orient on Tuesday evening, leaving only themselves to blame as two unforced errors gifted the visitors two goals.
The loss sees Simon Weaver’s side without a win in League Two in seven games, whilst the O’s picked up their first victory away from home since mid-September – ending a run of 13 games on the road without a win.
Weaver stated after the game, “Tonight we’re miles off. Big errors again defensively cost us but the overall performance wasn’t the level required”.
Two errors at the back by 34-year-old veteran Rory McArdle helped Aaron Drinian bag a brace – his first goals since December – before Ruel Sotiriou wrapped the game up with Orient’s third later on, with just over 15 minutes left on the clock.
Both sides created opportunities in the first forty-five in what was a hard-fought affair, despite neither side being able to make the most out of their chances.
Sotiriou headed the ball wide of the post early on for the visitors before Sulphurites defender Lewis Richards forced a good save at the near post by O’s ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
Theo Archibald came closest to finding the opening goal at The Envirovent Stadium in the first half as he rifled the ball against the post from just eight yards, much to the delight of Town ‘keeper Mark Oxley.
After 25 minutes, Weaver was forced into making a substitution as Richards was replaced by defender Simon Power, compelling Harrogate to switch from their back three to a 4-4-2 formation.
“We had an injury that unbalanced us somewhat”, Weaver stated post-match.
Sotiriou continued to pose a threat for the O’s as Oxley was called into action to deny him one-on-one, as well as coming close with an effort that just went over the bar. The match arrived at half-time goalless.
It did not take long after the break for the visitors to take the lead as Drinian capitalised on the first error made by McArdle. The defender’s clearance struck team-mate Alex Pattison, allowing Drinian to gain possession and drive forward with the ball before striking past Oxley.
Just a few minutes later and Harrogate found themselves two down, at the hands of Drinian once more. They failed to adequately deal with a long throw into the box from the left as Omar Beckles flicked the ball on before Drinian scored with a deflected effort from close range.
“Goals do change games and confidence. The minute we gifted them the first two goals it was always an uphill task”, said Weaver.
The Sulphurites were able impose a bit of pressure later on as Weaver brought on 18-year-old forward Calum Kavanagh, looking to build on his equalising goal against Walsall last week.
Jack Diamond threatened later on, attacking the Orient defence and forcing a save by Vigouroux. Diamond also struck the outside of the post, after some nice play between Kavanagh and Power, but Vigouroux was still able to keep his clean sheet intact.
Nonetheless, more calamitous defending ensued as McArdle was at fault again, twice giving the ball away just outside his own penalty area, allowing Sotiriou to finish past Oxley after 73 minutes of play and put Orient three up.
That signalled the end to the night for McArdle and one that he would like to forget, as the defender was substituted for Will Smith.
There was still time for Power to hit the crossbar for Harrogate after a neat cutback from Diamond, but Town were unable to add a consolation.
Weaver did not put Town’s missed chances down to misfortune, however, stating after the match that, “you’ve got to stick the chances away because they’re mistakes, it’s not unlucky”.
“When you’re hitting the bar or post it’s not quite good enough, you know you have to put the ball away. We haven’t scored enough recently and we have to be more ruthless in that respect”.
When asked what the message to the team is after the defeat against Orient, Weaver replied, “we can’t always be nice and accept it, we’re still a significant amount of points away from that bottom area but it’s not acceptable tonight and not good enough”.
“People have to look at themselves and think am I really going to be in the plans next year and if I am, people have to pull their finger out for the supporters who were great tonight”.
Up next for Harrogate is an away trip to Scunthorpe on Saturday.