A tale of two clubs

23 April 2018

The business end of the season is now approaching and Harrogate Town and Harrogate Railway Athletic have enjoyed differing fortunes during the course of the campaign.

To start with the positive, Town sit second in the National League North table and have already qualified for the play-off semi-finals in their first season as a fully professional club.

Having won 25 games and drawn another seven, Simon Weaver’s side have garnered 82 points with one league game to go and are 10 clear of those scrapping for spots in the play-off qualifying round.

Only Salford City have bettered their total and they will be confident heading into the play-offs, having scored 95 goals already this term – 20 more than any other side in the division.

They do concede goals, but having players with the ability to find the net is a massive bonus in the lottery of post-season play.

The goals have been spread around the team, with Joe Leesley netting 14, Jordan Thewlis 10 and Dominic Knowles seven, while George Thomson and Jack Emmett have chipped in with 11 and seven respectively from midfield.

Town have lost a couple of games back-to-back which might dent their momentum heading into the play-offs, but there is every chance that a few of the players will already have one eye on the bigger picture and a crack at promotion to the National League.

There are some big names now in the non-leagues but Town have relied on the collective to get the job done and the boss can be pleased with how things have panned out – but he will want to get the job finished.

Conversely, Harrogate Railway Athletic are on the verge of relegation from the Northern Counties East Football League.

Marlon Adams’ side sit one spot outside the drop zone but have played significantly more games than 20th-placed Hall Road Rangers, who may well overhaul them and send them down.

The Locomotives have won nine games this season but have been unable to pick up points through drawing matches, with only four stalemates all campaign and 25 losses.

A glance at the statistics and it is obvious where the problems lies as they have conceded an incredible 122 goals from 38 games, with only Clipstone – who have taken just two points all season – shipping more.

Athletic have scored 68 times themselves, more than some of the sides in mid-table, but it is fruitless to score two if the opposition hit five or six.

Staying in the current division is out of their hands and will rely on a big favour from Rangers but The Rail could do themselves a huge favour by winning a few of their remaining fixtures.

It may not stave off the drop to the East Midlands Counties League but will give them hope.

So it has been feast and famine for Harrogate’s two major clubs over the past eight months or so, and while Town will hope to end on a high with promotion, Athletic cannot wait to see the back of the 2017-18 campaign.

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