I’VE got to be honest, I wasn’t looking forward to our festive double-header with Harrogate Town ahead of Boxing Day’s home game.

With lowly Gainsborough Trinity having given us a good hiding just before Christmas, the thought of what high-flying Harrogate would do to us was at the forefront of my mind.

As it was, there was nothing to worry about. A combination of Darlo upping their game and Harrogate possibly having an off day meant we ran out well deserved winners.

When you consider that we have consistently struggled for several months, it looked a daunting task. We’ve made defensive mistake after defensive mistake and whilst we haven’t really been taken apart by the teams we’ve faced, we’ve allowed them to dominate us. That made our exploits on Boxing Day all the more enjoyable.

For the first time in a long time, we looked solid at the back. Bar a little bit of lax marking for Harrogate’s goal, our defence stayed switched on. Not only did we get through a game without any of the errors that so often prove costly, we actually forced errors from our full-time opposition.

It was a refreshingly good performance and it meant we walked out of Blackwell Meadows to resume our festive celebrations feeling a little better about our prospects.

Now, I try hard not to declare summer after the sight of a single swallow but having seen what we were capable of on Boxing Day, I headed down to Harrogate feeling a whole lot more optimistic than I had envisaged ahead of the 3-1 win.

Didn’t we all?

I suspect the win added a couple of hundred on the travelling army of fans for New Year’s Day. For all the wind that was in our sails, it was soon sucked out of them in nine chastening second half minutes.

Having shown a great deal of pragmatism in his approach to the Boxing Day game, Tommy Wright opted for more of the same by opting for a deep defensive set up. Not only was the team bus parked in front of our goal but the supporters’ bus was there too.

At times, it felt like a flat back nine with Reece Styche left to chase anything and everything that found its way in to the Harrogate half. It’s wasn’t pretty but it worked although it didn’t feel sustainable. It cracked within minutes of the second half kicking off.

Having been behind the Darlo dugout, it was interesting watching Wright and Alan White go through the wringer as their charges did everything they didn’t want them to do.

The first goal wasn’t great. How their player got around Leon Scott is beyond me, although in fairness to the home team, the pull back and finish was top class. The second goal was nothing short of a disgrace.

I wonder if it was just a coincidence that Leon Scott and Phil Turnbull were withdrawn almost immediately after their calamitous attempt to protect the back line as we attacked only for neither of them to pick up the only Harrogate player who stayed forward.

That was bad enough, but after the impressive James Talbot initially bailed them out with a decent save, Harrogate still managed to score. The third goal was poor, typical of what we do but was ultimately insignificant.

Along with Talbot, I was very impressed with Josh Heaton. He dealt well with Mark Beck and provided a degree of calmness and assurance that more experienced players around him seemed incapable of providing. Ultimately, the manner of defeat was disappointing.

It once again highlighted our shortcomings although if I’m completely honest, I didn’t expect us to get three points out of the two festive games so maybe we shouldn’t be too downhearted – just yet.