Three goals in the final ten minutes gave Harrogate Railway a positive ending to an otherwise disappointing 6-3 defeat at Warrington on Saturday afternoon.
Lee Ashforth’s side found themselves trailing by five on the hour mark thanks to goals from Ben Deegan (2), Scott Metcalfe, Ciaran Kilheeney and Chris Gaghan before a Tom Goodwin penalty save sparked the visitors into life.
New signing Tom Owen struck twice on his debut for the club, along with Charlie Clamp in the 90th minute, to severely narrow the deficit, although Nathan Burke added a sixth deep into stoppage time.
Almost 500 supporters turned up at Cantilever Park as part of ‘non-league day’ with Railway’s boss making two changes from Monday night’s win, but resisting the temptation to play Owen from the start.
Shaun Reid’s side started as you would expect from the third placed team; on the front foot, and went close through James McCarten’s free kick and Nathan Burke’s stretched effort.
The Wire then took the lead after 18 minutes when a right wing cross fortunately bounced off the bar and to the feet of Deegan who only had Dan Thirkell to beat on the line.
Railway immediately looked for a response with Vincent Dhesi having the visitors’ first shot just minutes later before Lawrance Hunter’s drive forced a save from Karl Wills.
Warrington then doubled their lead after Nathan Burke’s shot was parried by Goodwin into the path of Scott Metcalfe to stroke home.
The yellows Captain Kilheeney had chances to extend the lead as the half went on with two headed attempts that missed the target, while Dan Barrett came closest to pulling one back for Railway but couldn’t stretch enough to convert Thirkell’s teasing cross.
The hosts extended their lead just four minutes into the second half when Kilheeney was teed up on the edge of the area and placed his shot with just enough power to squirm past Goodwin.
Two minutes later Warrington had a fourth when Goodwin was forced to rush out his goal, however the stopper was left behind by Deegan who was left with an easy finish.
Warrington were rampant and soon grabbed a fifth when Chris Gaghan’s individual effort saw him dribble into the box from the right wing and add to Railway’s misery.
Things looked to be getting worse for the visitors when Warrington were awarded a penalty as Hunter was adjudged to have fouled Steven Gillespie, although the substitute couldn’t beat Goodwin who dived to his left to deny the Warrington man.
The save looked to galvanise Railway, even at 5-0 down, who continued to play attractive football and got on the scoresheet through substitute Owen on his club debut.
Rob Worrall had made a penetrative run into the yellows defence that allowed Jack Stockdill to execute a clever back heel into the path of Hunter. The left back shot hard and low at Wills who spilled the ball; allowing Owen to step in and poke into the back of the net.
Railway scored their second of the afternoon with three minutes of normal time remaining when Clamp’s lofted through ball found Owen who battled with the goalkeeper before heading into the net to cap a memorable debut.
Harrogate had gathered momentum and got a third goal back in the 90th minute when Clamp read an under hit back pass and sprinted onto the end of it before coolly slotting low under the ‘keeper.
With Ashforth’s men sensing a remarkable comeback, bodies were poured forward allowing Warrington to add a sixth through Nathan Burke who finished a low cross to crush any dreams of a late Railway rally deep into added time.
Next up for Harrogate Railway is second placed Northwich Victoria who visit Station View on Saturday 17th October.
Harrogate Railway: Goodwin, Thirkell (Horne 53), Hunter, Low, Clamp, Wood, Ibrahimi, Stockdill, Barrett (Bromley 61), Dhesi (Owen 61), Worrall
Subs not used: Sharrocks, Brown
Goals: Owen 80, 87, Clamp 90
Warrington Town: Wills, Brown, McQuade, Ventre (Roberts 53), McCarten, O’Donnell, Gahgan, Burke, Kilheeney (Gillespie 53), Deegan (Wharton 60), Metcalfe
Subs not used: Lester, Rudge
Goals: Deegan 18, 50, Metcalfe 28, Kilheeney 49, Gahgan 58, Burke 90+3
Referee: B. Speedie
Report by Hal Boxhall-Dockree