Harrogate Railway welcomed Norton and Stockton Ancients F.C in an Emirates FA Cup preliminary round on Saturday – Railway were through but they were made to work really hard for the victory.
Railway were back in FA Cup Action just ten days after seeing off Albion Sports in the Extra Preliminary round replay.
Railway started well, passing the ball around with ease, retaining possession and took an early lead.
Good play on Railway’s left saw the ball reach the impressive Harry Brown, who then played a one-two with Dan Barrett before shooting and beating Phillip Pentony at full stretch in the Norton goal.
It had taken only six minutes for Harrogate Railway to earn a 1-0 lead.
As the first half progressed, Railway seemingly took their foot off the gas, allowing Norton to get into the game and grow in confidence.
Twice during the first half, the ever-impressive Jake Lofthouse was forced into making impressive saves.
The best of the saves saw Jake dive full length to his right to push James Wilson’s goal-bound shot around the post.
Having soaked up quite a bit of pressure, Railway could have been excused for thinking that they would be going in at halftime a goal to the good – but that was not to be.
Norton continued pushing forward and were rewarded on 45 minutes when the excellent James Wilson curled a ball into the box and it eluded everyone to nestle just inside the far post.
On the restart, the referee only had time to blow the whistle and signify the first half was over, the sides going in all square.
The second half saw Norton continue to attack, looking to take the fight to Railway.
The game became stretched as the play went from end to end, with the visitors unlucky not to take the lead when confusion in the Railway penalty box and an inability to clear the danger saw a shot thunder off the underside of the Railway bar – when Norton looked certain to score.
Harrogate Railway responded, Jordan Hendrie going close to re-establishing The Rail’s lead. It was turning into a real cup-tie.
Railway were seeing more of the ball and happy to hit Norton on the counter attack.
Then came the decisive moment in the game.
Simon Parkes picked up possession on Railway’s right and played a great ball into space for Ryan Sharrocks to run onto.
Ryan looked up and saw Pentony rushing out to the edge of his box and trying to close down the danger.
Forget Will Grigg – Sharrocks has been on fire recently and he certainly terrified the Norton defense as he calmly lifted the ball over the advancing ‘keeper and everyone turned to watch the it drop into the empty net.
Simply a brilliant finish.
56 minutes gone and Railway were 2-1 up.
Norton weren’t finished and turned up the heat on the Railway goal, fashioning a number of half-chances to get back on level terms and force a replay.
Railway again seemed content to sit back and soak up the pressure, trying to hit The Ancients on the break.
To be fair, there was also an element of not being able to break out of defense as the visitors were determined to get a second goal.
With less than ten minutes left on the clock, there were a couple of goalmouth scrambles, which Railway managed to clear and relieve some of the growing pressure.
It was left until the third minute of injury time before Railway could breathe a sigh of relief.
Brandon Deane who had come on for the industrious Dan Barrett, timed his run perfectly to stay onside. He collected the through-ball and ran in on goal with only Phillip Pentony to beat.
The goalkeeper ran out to try and narrow the angle but Brandon coolly slotted home his second in as many games to settle the tie and set up a meeting with Consett at Station View in the next round of the FA Cup in two weeks time.
Harrogate Railway: Jake Lofthouse, Simon Parkes, Greg Kidd, Danny Stimpson, Alex Low, Harry Brown, Ryan Sharrocks, Gregg Porter, Dan Barrett, Stephen Bromley, Jordan Hendrie
Substitutes: Charlie Clamp, Brandon Deane, Bradley Sharrocks, Jonathon Richards, George Mason, Luke Hirst
Norton & Stockton Ancients: Phillip Pentony, James Marley, Lewis Walton, David Mitchell, Grant Hickman, Liam Browne, Glen Donaldon, Ryan Braithwaite, Nicky Martin, James Wilson, Phillip Calby
Substitutes: Marcus Laing, Dale Elgie, Jamie Tunstall, Daniel Wheeler, Tyler Scaith, Lewis Rees, Nathan Stephenson
Goals: Harry Brown (Harrogate Railway) 6 minutes; James Wilson (Norton & Stockton) 44 minutes; Ryan Sharrocks (Harrogate Railway) 56 minutes; Brandon Deane (Harrogate Railway) 90 minutes.
Report and photography by Caughtlight Photography