Harrogate Town’s coach arrived back at the CNG Stadium, in the wee small hours,after the club secured a well earned victory over the Bishop’s.
The football officials of this friendly and well appointed club are, however, adamant that they will return to the Conference South next season, because of the preponderance of northern clubs in the relegation places in the main Conference.
Both sides set out at a fast and furious pace on the excellent , Woodside Park,playing surface.
Dwayne Samuels was called into early action to clear Matt Johnson’s dangerous through ball,while at the other end, Carl Pentney saved well from Dave Merris and Adam Nowakowski.
Town breathed a sigh of relief as Harry Baker’s cross shot whistled just wide of the far post and Brian Woodall and Sean Francis then headed wide.
Town were meeting Bishop’s,blow for blow, and Adam Bolder shot just over after picking up a half cleared corner.
As the interval approached,there appeared to be little danger as Paul Bolland pumped a long ball down the right wing,but Adam Bailey-Dennis made a complete hash of an unnecessary back pass,stranding keeper Pentney, leaving Danny Forrest, to nip in and score.
After an early 20 yards shot by Forrest,Bishop’s Stortford began to apply the pressure.
Lewis Wilson miscued in front of goal and Craig McGillivray saved well from Baker.
On the hour, Dom Knowles should have stretched Town’s lead after being sent clear by Shane Killock’s powerful header,only to be denied by a timely tackle from Francis.
Bishop’s threw on Steve Cawley and the burly Reneil Sappleton in an attempt to prise open Town’s rock like defence in which Killock and Alan White were outstanding. Baker was dispatched to the right wing,where he posed a constant threat to Harrogate’s left flank.
An excellent tackle by Merris robbed Sappleton and Francis headed Matt Johnson’s free kick wide, but it was Town who had the last laugh.
Chib Chilaka,who had replaced Bolder,exchanged passes with Knowles and raced through the home defence, to brilliantly shoot past Pentney and put the result beyond doubt.
He then proved his worth as a defender with a good block from Johnson’s free kick, to preserve Town’s clean sheet.
1 MacGillivray, 2 Samuels, 3 Merris, 4 Bolder ( Chilaka 85), 5 White, 6 Killock, 7 Nowakowski, 8 Bolland (c), 9 Knowles, 10 Larkin, 11 Forrest ( Elam 80)
Unused subs,14 Woods,15 Bloomer.17 Dean.
Scorers, Forrest 45, Chilaka 85. Bookings Merris.
By John Harrison.