Once again, Harrogate Town succumbed to a late goal,as they went down 2-1 at Brackley Town.
There were a few changes in the Harrogate line up with Chris Elliott replacing Peter Crook in goal and Simon Ainge moving forward to partner, Jon Paul Pittman in a 4-4-2 formation. Andi Thanoj and Louis Swain were both included in the starting line up.
It was Brackley, on a high after their F A Cup victory over Gillingham,who should have taken an early lead when Alex Grudger scooped over from close range, after a corner was headed back across Town’s goal.
After absorbing early Brackley pressure, Town hit back when a superb cross-field pass from Warren Burrell found Joe Colbeck free on the right, but his powerful cross shot was beaten away by Laurie Walker in the home goal.
A Joe Leesley free kick from the touchline was headed wide by Danny Ellis,and Walker dealt with a Pittman header, while at the other end, James Armson drove into Elliott’s arms at the near post.
Harrogate pressure late in the half, bore fruit, when Leesley’s deep cross was flick headed past Walker by Ainge, to give Town an interval lead.
Unfortunately, Town’s lead lasted only four minutes into the second half, until sub, David Moyo turned in Steve Diggin’s low cross at the near post.
Pittman and Leesley, then carved out an opening for Colbeck and it took a last ditch block from Gudger to keep out the winger’s shot.
Town’s injury jinx struck again, when Ellis had to be replaced by Paul Thirlwell, while shortly afterwards,Jack Emmett and Nicky Clee, were brought on for Colbeck and Leesley.
Thirlwell’s first action was to release Turner down the left,but his cross was headed wide by Thanoj.As the game entered its final stages, the impressive, Glenn Walker brought out a diving save from Elliott, but Brackley’s persistence paid off in the final minute, when sub Matt Lowe’s low shot crept in inside Elliott’s near post.
Town staged a stoppage time rally, with a Clee free kick being scrambled clear and Laurie Walker made a brave stop, when he dropped onto the ball in a goalmouth melee, to send Harrogate home pointless.
1 Elliott, 2 Turner, 3 Swain, 4 Ainge, 5 Shiels, 6 Ellis (c), (Thirlwell 65), 7 Colbeck (Emmett 75), 8 Burrell, 9 Pittman, 10 Thanoj,11 Leesley (Clee 79).
Unused subs, 15 Chilaka,17 Day. Bookings,Pittman,Leesley.
Scorer Ainge 45, Att. 415
By John Harrison.