A near 2000 crowd saw Harrogate go down 4-1 to Grimsby Town in a controversial F A Cup tie at the CNG Stadium.
The game burst into life from the off,with Grimsby’s Padraig Amond, shooting at Peter Crook after a pass from Omar Bogle,while at the other end,Brendan Daniels tested James McKeown with a low shot and Joe Colbeck fired a free kick over the bar.
On fourteen minutes a superb goal from Harrogate set the stadium alight.
A brilliant turn from Dominic Knowles wrongfooted the Mariner’s defence and Daniels eagerly swept the cut back into the roof of the net.
The game became a typical cup tie with several feisty tackles from both teams keeping referee,Simon Bennett,busy,and resulting in a booking for Luke Shiels.
Crook saved from Conor Townsend and Amond missed an header in front of goal as Grimsby began to assert themselves,and on thirtyfour minutes they equalised.
Bogle,Harrogate’s nemesis from his Solihull Moor’s days,found Amond unmarked on the edge of the area and he sidefooted past Crook into the far corner.
Harrogate countered immediately, with a long range free kick from Daniels,after a foul on Lewis Turner,forcing McKeown to save at the foot of the post.
As half time beckoned,Daniels was brought down in the area,but Town’s penalty claims were waved away and Daniels was booked for diving.
Harrogate had the first attack after the break,when a foul by Aristote Nsiala on Knowles resulted in Turner’s free kick finding Cecil Nyoni,who squared to Daniels and McKeown had to fling himself full length to keep out the Town marksman’s shot.
That was as good as it got for Harrogate,for as Grimsby began to turn the screw,it took two decisive blocks from Harrogate’s”Man of the Match”‘Danny Ellis,to keep the Mariners at bay.
However,two goals in three minutes,effectively won the game for Grimsby.
On fiftyfour minutes,the home faithful rose to applaud a magnificent tackle by Turner on Nathan Arnold,which conceded a corner,only to be reduced to stunned silence when Mr Bennett,pointed to the penalty spot.
Crook made a superb save from Bogle’s poorly struck penalty,but he was powerless to prevent Bogle heading the rebound into the far corner.
Worse was to follow,as Harrogate lost their concentration and allowed the unmarked Arnold to run through and beat Crook with a cross shot.
Harrogate swopped Colbeck for Jack Emmett and Paul Clayton for Paul Thirlwell,but Grimsby put the result beyond doubt in the seventyfirst minute,when Amond scored his second after an impressive bout of passing from the visitors.
Dave McGurk made a welcome return for Harrogate,replacing Luke Shiels who had picked up a knock after a collision with a cameraman.
Harrogate could make little impression on the strong visiting defence apart from Nyoni’s looping header from a Daniels cross, which was easily dealt with by McKeown.
Undoubtedly,the better side won and it’s doubtful whether Harrogate could have held out even without the dubious penalty.
The bright spots were the return of Paul Thirlwell,who will bring experience and stability to Town’s midfield and the fact that for almost an hour they gave as good as they got against,National North highflyers Grimsby.
Harrogate Town 1 Grimsby Town 4 Att.1920
1 Crook, 2 Turner, 3 McWilliams, 4 Nyoni, 5 Shiels, (McGurk 69), 6 Ellis (c), 7 Colbeck (Emmett 58), 8 Swain, 9 Clayton (Thirlwell 58), 10 Knowles, 11 Daniels.
Unused subs 12 Thewlis, 13 Stewart (gk),17 Bloomer, 19 Fallowfield
Scorer Daniels 14, Bookings Shiels,Daniels Att 1920
Harrogate Man of the Match,Ellis.
Report by John Harrison
Photography by Craig Hurle