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Harrogate Town 2-0 Morecambe Match Report

26 August 2023

Goals either side of half-time from Luke Armstrong and George Thomson were good enough to secure a 2-0 win for Town against ten-man Morecambe.

Armstrong fired home a penalty on 20 minutes before Thomson struck a sensational free-kick midway through the second-half after Ferrand Rawson had been sent off after receiving a second yellow card. The win saw Town bring a run of three successive defeats to an end.

There were five changes to the side that suffered a late defeat at Accrington a week ago. Dean Cornelius was ruled out having fractured his wrist, with skipper Josh Falkingham coming back into the side along with Levi Sutton, James Daly, Thomson and fit again Rod McDonald. Defender Will Smith returned to the matchday squad for the first time this season.

Unsurprisingly, the visitors named an unchanged side to the one that defeated Bradford City 3-0 in their last outing.

Prior to kick-off there was a wonderfully observed minutes applause for members of the Town community who sadly passed away recently, Fergus Donaldson, Paul Richardson, George Dunnington and Kevin Motley.

The visitors created the first chance of note on ten minutes when the lively Tom Bloxham fed JJ McKiernan but the Shrimps striker slipped at an inopportune moment to end the early attack.

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Despite ceding possession in the opening stages Town got the lead when an impressive move featuring George Thomson and Toby Sims saw the recalled winger fire a shot on goal. The effort was blocked but Sam Folarin’s rebound shot was blocked by the arm of Ferrand Rawson. Despite protests that saw Rawson and Jacob Bedeau yellow carded Armstrong stepped up to crash the spot kick beyond Stuart Moore.

Sparked into life Town created went close shortly after but Daly headed straight into the arms of Moore.

With ten minutes remaining before the break McKiernan was forced off after being caught accidentally in a challenge with Sutton. The forward was replaced by Jake Taylor.

Played in by an incisive Sutton pass Matty Foulds then delivered a low testing cross that skidded across the face of goal to safety.

A probing cross from Folarin was then met at the far post by Armstrong who made strong contact but couldn’t direct his header on target. Armstrong then won possession and fired a shot just wide as a half that Town didn’t want to end drew to a close.

The second-half began with an immediate yellow card for Sutton who was late in his challenge on substitute Taylor.

Daly then powerfully met Falkingham’s deep cross but he was under the ball and his effort landed some way over the bar.

Bloxham woke the travelling fans from their slumber on the hour mark with a volley that caused Oxley initial consternation before flying wide of his right-hand post.

Mellon then turned quickly to fire beyond the stranded Oxley who was relieved to see the ball cannon back off the advertising hoardings.

Derek Adams made a pair of changes that saw David Tutonda and Jacob Davenport replace Bedeau and Joel Senior.

Almost immediately though Rawson was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Sutton and once the dust had settled on the protests Thomson coolly stepped up to perfectly execute the resulting free-kick, the effort having the bend and whip to leave Moore with no chance of keeping it out.

Simon Weaver turned to the industry of Jack Muldoon and Warren Burrell with just over ten minutes, Folarin and Sutton the men to make way whilst the visitors made their final changes with Charlie Stokes and Jordan Slew replacing Michael Mellon ad Eli King.

Both Fakingham and Oxley found themselves in the book as the final stages wore on with Town holding on to the lead.

The numerical disadvantage meant the visitors were always chasing the game and Town should have wrapped the game up with a third goal when Thomson’s slide rule pass was inch perfect but Armstrong fired over. Their lead remained intact though and the final whistle brought with it a welcome three points.

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