Stevenage 1 harrogate AFC

Harrogate Town 1-1 Stevenage report

16 January 2023

A Luke Armstrong header with fifteen minutes remaining earned Town a deserved point against high-flying Stevenage.

After a goalless first-half Carl Piergianni poked home from a corner on the hour but Town recovered to come away a 1-1 draw on a wet and windy afternoon at the Envirovent Stadium.

Kayne Ramsay missed out through injury but there was a debut handed to Anthony O’Connor, who arrived in midweek from League One side Morecambe. There was also a return to the side for Joe Mattock whilst Will Smith made a welcome return to the bench following his serious injury.

The visitors named an unchanged from the line-up that shocked Aston Villa in the third round of the FA Cup a week ago.

With both sides lining up with a back three the opening stages of the game were evenly matched with the two sides content to feel each other out.

Town had the earliest opportunity though when a well-worked free kick resulted in Mattock meeting Danny Grant’s delivery but firing his low attempt just wide of the post.

Armstrong then had a golden opportunity to put Town ahead on ten minutes when he intercepted Jake Reeves’s errant pass, but a heavy touch allowed Ashby-Hammond to race out and smother the threat.

Jordan Roberts became the first player to go into the book on twenty-one minutes when he hauled back Alex Pattison who was a dangerous foray towards the Stevenage penalty area. George Thomson struck the resulting free-kick well wide of the target.

Town went close again minutes later when Sam Folarin’s pace saw him beat the defence before squaring for Grant. He played in Pattison who fashioned some space for the shot but the visitors defence recovered to crowd him out.

The blustery conditions were making life difficult and chances were at a premium over the first forty-five minutes with both sides struggling to fashion any passages of play or spells of possession.
The wind – and now driving rain – were in the faces of the Town players for the second-half and a hopeful cross across the penalty area was spilled by Pete Jameson in the opening minutes but Luther James-Wildin stabbed the ball wide.

Town responded with a marauding run from Pattison that saw him receive the ball back and fire a shot at Taylor Ashby-Hammond who was well positioned to save despite the tricky conditions.
Dan Sweeney then responded by cracking a powerful effort that for a moment threatened Jameson’s goal to cap an eventful first five minutes of the half.

Town fell behind just before the hour mark though. The defence failed to deal with a corner and Piergianni poked the ball home past Jameson to give the visitors the lead.

Immediately after taking the lead Steve Evans made a quadruple change with Daryl Horgan, Jamie Reid, Jake Forster-Caskey and Dean Campbell replacing Jordan Roberts, Luke Norris, Jake Reeves and Jake Taylor.

Substitute Reid then had a good opportunity from another set piece when he shot from close range but Jameson was equal to the task.

Forster-Caskey then struck from the edge of the area with his effort taking a deflection that Jameson was relieved fell the right side of the post.

Town were continue to try and prise the door open and got their reward with fifteen minutes remaining when Grant feed up Pattison who burst down the left and found Armstrong with a perfect cross to head home for his tenth of the season.

Stung by the equaliser the visitors almost regained the lead when Max Clark fizzed an effort at goal that Jameson did well to parry wide.

Town responded themselves though when the wind held up a deep cross to allow Grant an effort at goal that was cleared off the line to deny a potential match winning goal as the clock began to tick down.

As the game moved into injury time there was a debut for Toby Sims when he replaced Grant with Simon Weaver looking to secure a valuable point for Town.

TOWN: Jameson, Mattock, Falkingham, Burrell, Thomson, Grant (Sims, 90), Folarin (Wright, 84), O’Connor, Pattison, McArdle, Armstrong.
Substitutes: Oxley, Welch-Hayes, Smith, Frost, Horbury.
Goals: Armstrong (75)
Stevenage: Ashby-Hammond, James-Wildin, Clark, Reeves (Forster-Caskey, 62), Piergianni, Sweeney, Taylor (Campbell, 62), Norris (Reid, 62), Roberts (Horgan, 62), Vancouten, Rose.
Substitutes: Chapman, Bostwick, Tomkinson.
Booked: Roberts (21)
Goals: Piergianni (60)
Referee: Adam Herczeg
Attendance: 2,314

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