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Town leave it late in Cleethorpes win

Dominic Knowles’ 85″ minute goal ensured Town’s winning start to pre-season continued as Simon Weaver’s men came from two goals down to beat Cleethorpes Town.

The NCEL Premier Division outfit took a surprise lead after 22 minutes when Maskell found the bottom corner, and were two nil up five minutes later as Richardson volleyed home.

Jordan Robertson halved the deficit after half an hour before Andy Gascoigne levelled the score seven minutes into the second half with a well-placed header.

With the tie seemingly heading for a draw, Knowles stole possession by the right corner flag and raced towards goal before rounding the ‘keeper and finding the net to seal a fourth pre-season win in nine days.

The Harrogate boss made nine changes from Monday night’s 1-0 win at Garforth with Joe Leesley and Andy Gascoigne the only two unchanged.

Knowles had forced Cleethorpes ‘keeper Higtoninto an early save, and came even closer to opening the scoring in the tenth minute when his first time finish from Leesley’s delivery rolled just past the post.
The Owls then showed the quality that helped them finish 3rd last season as Taylor broke through on goal but was denied by Lloyd Allinson who saved smartly with his feet.

Marcus Newell’s men took the lead in the 22nd minute when the lively Maskell cut in from the left wing and found the bottom corner before Allinson could react.
Not content with their lead, Cleethorpes claimed a second five minutes later when Robertson controlled a half cleared corner on his chest and powered past Allinson.

The two goal advantage was short lived though, as Robertson beat Higton to the ball and poked past the onrushing stopper to claim his fourth goal of pre-season.
The contest continued at a frantic pace as Robertson almost completed a quick-fire brace with a curling effort that Higton did well to tip round the post.
The Owls were still very much a threat though, and nearly had a third when a free kick took a huge deflection and bounced onto the Town crossbar.

Town looked rejuvenated after the introduction of Peter Crook, Andi Thanoj and Danny Ellis at the break and tied up the score seven minutes into the half.
Leesley had spotted Gascoigne’s late run into the box and delivered a pinpoint cross onto the head of the attacker who nodded into the corner.

Another Leesley cross almost resulted in Town leading just three minutes later as Tom Platt’s looping back post header clipped the upright and went behind.
The visitors did have to endure a nervy moment just past the hour mark as Ben Parker’s back pass bobbled past Crook and rolled just wide of the empty goalmouth.

Both Ellis and Robertson came close to an elusive third goal, with the towering centre back seeing his near post header saved and the trialist striker firing just over the bar from 25 yards.
Moments after substitute Joel Perkiss had shot narrowly past the far post, Knowles stole possession in the final third and found the finish that Town had been looking for with just five minutes to play.

It was not all plain sailing in the closing stages though as a Cleethorpes attacker took aim for the top corner and was inches away from finding his target.
Town will be looking to make it five pre-season wins this Saturday when we contest The John Smiths Trophy with neighbours Harrogate Railway at Station View.

Harrogate Town: Allinson (Crook 45), Turner, Parker, Assenso (Ellis 45), Ainge, Thirlwell (Thanoj 45), Platt, Leesley (Colbeck 73 (Swain 88)), Gascoigne (Perkiss 67), Knowles, Robertson
Goals: Robertson 30, Gascoigne 52, Knowles 85
Cleethorpes Town: Higton, Kingston, Winn, Richardson, Bloomer, Wresell, Maskell, Flett, Taylor, Robertson, Winfarrah
Goals: Maskell 22, Richardson 27
Attendance: 247

Report by Hal Boxhall-Dockree

Photography Craig Hurle

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