Harrogate Town arrived at Bower Fold, home of Stalybridge Celtic, looking for another victory on the road.
What they got was just that, in the howling rain, wind and falling temperatures, Town turned on the heat for their League Championship run with a scrappy, but well earned 1-0 win, thanks to a Danny Ellis goal in the first half, sending the traveling supporters home happy knowing we are now up to 2nd in the League, after North Ferriby and AFC Fylde dropped points tonight, and with games in hand over Boston United, Nuneaton and North Ferriby, we are within touching distance of Solihull Moors in 1st.
The only change to Saturday’s line up was the return of Andy Gascoigne to the subs bench.
After surviving a late 3pm pitch inspection due to overnight frost and falling temperatures, the match was finally on at our 5th attempt, and within a minute of kick off, it was nearly 1-0 when Brendon Daniels corner found the head of Paul Clayton, before heading the attempt just wide.
With just 3 minutes on the clock, it looked like Jordan Thewlis had a shirt pulled, but the referee said no and the ball went out for a corner. Minutes later, Brendon Daniels once more played the ball through to Paul Clayton, before the linesman blew for offside, although it looked very much on side.
Another Clayton attempt on the 11th minute got lost in possession before the ball landed at the feet of an arriving Jack Emmett, striking just wide of the target.
With 14 minutes on the clock, Jordan Thewlis managed to play the ball past the Stalybridge defender, bringing down Thewlis in the process, however the Referee gave a free kick and no penalty. The free kick cleared away for a Town corner though, which saw several shots on goal, before Burrell’s attempt was deflected.
On the 22nd minute, a Stalybridge free kick brought danger for Town before being well saved by the gloves of Peter Crook. The counter on the 23rd minute saw Brendon Daniels strike the ball past the right post and out wide.
Stalybridge themselves countered well and only a sliding tackle by Captain Danny Ellis locked out the promising Stalybridge attack.
An early forced substitution saw Nat Brown brought off injured, replaced by Dave McGurk on the 25th minute.
The match was beginning to resemble end to end football and looked to be heading for 0-0 at half time, that was until the 39th minute.
Up stepped Brendon Daniels for a free kick, played into Jordan Thewlis, who finds Danny Ellis, who somehow managed strike the ball into the net for 1-0.
Drama in the 44th minute saw another decision go against Town, Jordan Thewlis looked to have scored the perfect goal, getting passed his man and striking the ball into the back of the net, before the linesman again blew for offside, although once more, looked to more than on side.
The second half became a battle against the appalling weather conditions and very heavy pitch, as Town looked for a second goal as well as locking out Stalybridge Celtic.
Stalybridge put pressure on Town’s goal and it took a collective effort of the back line and Crook in goal to lock out the charge on goal, Danny Ellis putting on a captain’s display and young loan signing Mason Warren once again putting in a solid 90 minutes display, hard to choose Man of the Match, Mason just nicking it.
Substitutions for Jack Emmett and Brendon Daniels saw Joe Colbeck and Tom Platt come on to see out the crucial 1-0 victory. The final stages of the match became a scrappy affair with Town putting in a dogged spirit and gritty display to ensure the win at a ground where we have struggled to win in recent outings. And with another bogey side beaten on their home ground, Town can look to Saturday’s match with FC United of Manchester with some unfinished business after the nature of their defeat last month.
3 added minutes seemed to take an age to pass by, but the town traveling support roar on the team to victory once more, singing the Team on in the final nervy few minutes.
When the whislte blew, and the victory ensured, Both players and Supporters cheered and celebrated a victory that now takes us up to 2nd in the league.
And with another match just days away on Saturday at home to FC United of Manchester, Town will be looking to add to their winninng run momentum this weekend.
Harrogate Town: Mason Warren
1. Crook, 2. Turner, 3. Warren, 4. Burrell, 5. Ellis (c), 6. Brown OFF 26, 7. Emmett OFF 67, 8. Kerry, 9. Clayton, 10. Thewlis, 11. Daniels OFF 70.
Subs: Colbeck ON 67, McGurk ON 26, Platt ON 70, Gascoigne, Worrall.
Shots on: 3
Shots off: 9
Report by John Harrison
Photography by Craig Hurle