Harrogate Town 1-1 Walsall Match Report – Danny Pugsley

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A last gasp strike from substitute Callum Kavanagh earned Town a well-deserved point after falling behind to a second-half Connor Wilkinson penalty .

It looked set to be a frustrating afternoon for Simon Weaver’s side after dominating the opening forty-five minutes when they paid the price when Mark Oxley was penalised for a foul on Joss Labadie.

But with what was almost the last kick of the action Kavanagh popped up at the near post to meet Jack Diamond’s cross and level the game.

Town made one enforced change to the side that fell to a 2-0 defeat at Tranmere on Tuesday. Jack Muldoon returned to the starting line-up in place of the suspended Luke Armstrong.

Walsall, coming off a 2-1 win at home to Oldham in midweek, named an unchanged side which meant a place on the bench for former Town-player Brendan Kiernan.

The early stages of the game saw both sides feeling each other out on a bright spring afternoon in North Yorkshire.

Nathan Sheron was an name into the book after he received a yellow card for contesting a free-kick award.

It was not until the twentieth minute that there was goalmouth action of any sort. And it was Town who had the first opportunity when an impudent flick from Jack Muldoon released Diamond, but the winger couldn’t get the ball out of his feet to get enough power on his shot.

Liam Kinsella then joined Sheron in the book after his lunge felled Muldoon on the half-way line.

Town were beginning to assert themselves on the game now and a ball from Alex Pattison found the onrushing Ryan Fallowfield. Saddlers keeper Carl Rushworth was brave in racing off his line to smother the danger though.

Fallowfield then robbed Manny Monthe and galloped into the Walsall box but fired his shot narrowly wide.
Pattison’s pace then took him beyond the visitors defence but his dangerous low crash flashed across the six-yard box with neither Diamond nor Mark Beck able to apply the touch needed to give Town the lead.

Pattison was again in the thick of the action on 40 minutes, advancing towards goal and forcing a smart save from Rushworth who was then up quickly to deny Muldoon’s rebound effort.

Town must be wondering how they’d not got themselves a healthy advantage heading in at the break.

Pressing and harassing the Walsall defence at every opportunity was paying dividends from an attacking perspective but they did get a scare on the stroke of half-time as Wilkinson’s snap shot – Walsall’s first effort of any substance – concerned Oxley enough to see him scramble across his goal. The Town keeper was relieved enough to see the effort fall narrowly wide.

The visitors came out well after the break though and had the first opportunity when Emmanuel Osadebe combined with Tyrese Shade with the Leicester loanee not quite getting enough bend on his shot to test Oxley.

Michael Flynn made his first change of the afternoon soon after when he introduced Devante Rodney in place of leading scorer George Miller, who had had a quiet afternoon against Town’s defensive unit.

Walsall had the lead soon after though. The Town defence allowed a ball into the box to bounce and when Oxley couldn’t secure the ball at the first attempt he was then adjudged to have fouled Joss Labadie. Wilkinson
stepped up and converted from the spot for his tenth goal of the season.

Town were instantly back on the front foot and almost equalised a minute later. Muldoon’s persistence saw him create space on the right-hand to find Beck at the near post and he was unfortunate to see his right-footed effort land narrowly over the bar.

Lewis Richards became the second Town player to go into the book on 68 minutes following a mis-timed challenged on goalscorer Wilkinson.

Oxley then prevented Town falling further behind when he pulled off a smart low save to deny substitute Rodney.

Simon Weaver then made two changes with fifteen minutes remaining, with Irish duo Kavanagh and Simon Power replacing Muldoon and Warren Burrell.

A snapshot from Diamond soon after almost caught Rushworth off his line.

Hayden White was the fourth name in the book as he pulled back substitute Kavanagh to thwart a potential Town attack with Diamond following soon after for a late challenge.

The Saddlers were content to play out time having the lead, evidenced by a yellow card for Wilkinson for time wasting as the minutes ticked down.

Town had a glorious opportunity in the final minute when Power found himself one on one with Rushworth but could only fire his effort straight at the Saddlers keeper.

But Kavanagh earned a share of the spoils with a glancing header with the game to secure a deserved point with his first goal at senior level.

TOWN: Oxley, Fallowfield, Burrell (Power, 75), McArdle, Richards, Sheron, Thomson, Pattison, Diamond, Beck, Muldoon (Kavanagh, 75).

Subs not used: Cracknell, Legge, Austerfield, Kerry.

Booked: Sheron (5), Richards (68), Diamond (82), Thomson (90+2)

Goals: Kavanagh (90+4)

Walsall: Rushworth, White, Labadie, Daniels, Monthe, Kinsella, Wilkinson, Osadebe, Miller (Rodney, 55),
Earing, Shade.

Subs not used: Rose, Ward, Kiernan, Leak, Perry, Menayese.

Booked: Kinsella (23), White (79), Wilkinson (87), Rodney (90)

Goals: Wilkinson (60, pen)

Referee: Declan Bourne.

Attendance: 2,570

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