Harrogate Railway hosted Darlington on Saturday afternoon for an intriguing pre-season friendly which produced 7 goals.
Darlington began the match in good touch, passing with confidence, and exploiting space between Railway’s defence and midfield. Former Rail’ favourite Nathan Cartman got on the end of two well-placed passes in the fifth and sixth minute, which he clinically finished on each occasion, only for both of them to be ruled out for offside.
This statement of intent from Darlington seemed to ignite a spark in the home side, as Railway increased their intensity, battling for every ball and chasing somewhat lost causes. Yet in the 12th minute Rail’ striker Roy Fogarty caused panic in the Darlo’ defence when chasing down a pitched through ball, only for the ball to ricochet off goalkeeper and defender and fall to his feet presenting an empty net, 1-0.
Minutes later, ex-Railway winger Rob Youhill suffered a dislocated elbow after an awkward fall. Coincidentally, Darlington’s defence were beginning to look disjointed, as Harrogate continued to pester their back four at every opportunity. However, their confidence was restored on 19 minutes as Nathan Cartman was ideally placed to side foot a low cross into the top-right corner.
The tension and excitement was building as both teams looked threatening on the attack. Darlington ‘keeper Jack McClaren received an over hit through ball from the Railway midfield, only to dwell on the ball thus allowing Stephen Bromley to slide and block McClaren’s attempted clearance. Bromley made it to his feet first, cut back on to his left foot and found the goal from 6 yards out, despite efforts from the Darlington defence.
As half-time beckoned the Quakers were awarded a penalty after Cartman got a toe on the ball before being clipped by an onrushing defender. The initial shot was saved by Rail’ goalkeeper Tom Goodwin, but little could be done to stop the rebound, 2-2 at the break.
The second half saw a change in personnel and a drastic change in the weather as supporters ran for cover from the downpour. Once again Darlington started the better, and soon took the lead from a corner, headed in by substitute Kevin Burgess. It seemed the changes made by Martin Gray made a big impact and Railway were unable to keep the ball for sustained periods.
Darlington were beginning to show their class as they dominated possession and found holes in the Railway defence. Two more well worked goals were added to the Quakers’ tally in the 63th (Tom Portas) and 71st (Adam Mitchell) minute. For all Harrogate’s efforts they failed to get a clean strike on goal. Charlie Clamp was unable to get his shot away after a promising pass, and Dan Thirkell’s half-volley from the edge of the box was blocked on 83 minutes. 2-5 it finished.
Railway manager Lee Ashforth can have no argument with the result, but his players showed promise, certainly during the first-half. His side now travel to Yorkshire Amateur AFC on Tuesday 28 July (7.45pm kick-off).
Photograph by Caught Light Photography