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Two quality strikes from Portsmouth ended Harrogate’s participation in this seasons F A Cup, in a dramatic night at Wetherby Road.
The game kicked off 55 minutes late because of power cuts in the area and there were grave doubts that the match would go ahead.Luckily, power was restored and there were no further alarms.
Town attacked from the off and the Pompey defence appeared at sixes and sevens, especially against the aerial threat from Mark Beck.
A foul after seven minutes by Christian Burgess on Beck led to an early Town goal.
Warren Burrell got the initial contact to George Smith’s free kick and Jack Muldoon followed up to head across goal for Beck to nod past ex Town keeper, Craig MacGillivray, from close range.
A Jack Diamond foul on Brandon Haunstrup led to Pompey’s first attack, but James Belshaw was quickly off his line to smother Haunstrup’s free kick.
The visitors showed their class with a superbly taken equaliser after seventeen minutes, when Haunstrup picked up a pass from Ryan Williams, cut in from the right and curled in a left foot shot from the edge of the area past the diving Belshaw.
Town hit back strongly, and Josh Falkingham released Ryan Fallowfield down the right, but his cross was headed wide by Will Smith.
Town kept up the pressure and Muldoon squared to Falkingham twenty yards out, but his goalbound, rocket of a shot, struck Beck and bounced to safety.
Next, a long clearance from Belshaw was headed on to Muldoon by Beck, unfortunately the striker
directed his shot just wide of the upright.
Town suffered a setback when the influential, Warren Burrell, limped of to be replaced by Jack Emmett and as half time approached they conceded what was to be the winning goal.
A pass from Williams found Ronan Curtis on the left flank and he promptly cut inside and beat Belshaw with a dipping volley from fully twentyfive yards.
So ended an excellent half of football which must have delighted the B T viewers and the near three and half thousand present.
It was Pompey who started the second half on the front foot.John Marquis fired a couple of shots past Town’s goal, while Belshaw did well to beat out a vicious shot from the right from Williams.
Simon Weaver brought on George Thomson and Alex Bradley to replace Diamond and Brendan Kiernan and the former almost made an immediate impact when he lashed a powerful drive past the right hand upright with MacGillivray well beaten.
Town, ”Man of the Match”, Beck headed a George Smith corner at MacGillivray, and soon afterwards, headed Thomson’s cross over the bar, as Town pressed for the equaliser.
However, it was Portsmouth who came nearest to scoring when Lee Brown found space on the left and shot across goal, only to see his effort hit the far post.
Although Bradley forced a full length save from MacGillivray, the experienced and uncompromising Pompey defence denied Town space, and although Emmett and Muldoon both had late chances to shoot they dwelt on the ball giving time for the visitors to block their attempts.
Town’s performance last night gained them a lot of respect and should put them in good heart for a crack at promotion to the Football League, starting with a visit to leaders Bromley on Saturday.
Belshaw, Fallowfield, W Smith, Burrell, (Emmett 32), G Smith, Falkingham(c), Kiernan(Bradley 70), Beck, Muldon, Diamond, (Thomson 63), Hall.
Unused subs, Cracknell, Brown, Taylor, Jones.
Scorer Beck 7.
MacGillivray, Haunstrup, Burgess, Raggett(Downing 32), Brown, Naylor(c), (Walkes 25), Close, Williams, Evans, Curtis, Maquis.
Unused subs, Bass, Bolton, Cannon, Harness, Pitman.
Scorers, Haunstrup 17, Curtis 42. Att.3408 (approx. 600 away)
Town, Man of the Match, Mark Beck.
Referee, Anthony Backhouse