A late poachers goal from substitute Andre Brown gave the Harriers all three points at home to a dogged Harrogate Town today in a game that looked to be heading for a scoreless draw. If it had ended that way then that would have been galling considering that Fylde were heading for their first defeat in eight games at Nuneaton Town. That was a result that neither high flying Harriers and Stockport could achieve last week.
The starting line-up for the Reds held a surprise with the naming of Jared Hodgkiss back in his old full back position after being re-called form his loan at Torquay during the week. He was in because of an injury to Zaine Francis-Angol at Tamworth in the week while Jordan Tunnicliffe, also injured in the same game, made the eleven even though his injury appeared worse at the time. Also there was Joe Ironside making his home debut and hoping to add to the brace he scored at the Lamb.
Harrogate, in their smart yellow striped shirts, were without both the former Harriers, Lloyd Kerry and Dom Knowles, due to injury but did have Simon Ainge up front for them. His goals have kept 'Gate in the chasing pack but it's doubtful they would be there if it wasn't for him.
On the first real Spring like game of the year the teams kicked off in warm sunshine and it was the visitors that pressed from the start, forcing the Harriers into many un-characteristic mistakes. Their defenders gave us very little room up-front to strut our stuff with long range efforts from Josh Ezewele and Elton N'Gwatala being sent over the bar. At the back we were also being forced into schoolboy errors with underplayed back-passes the order of the day. The first saw Sam Hornby making a stunning double save after Danny Ellis took two shots at our goal and then Ainge missed an easy one-on-one after another soft ball back was intercepted but his shot was wayward and over the bar.
We were struggling to get any momentum going and when we did there was a yellow shirt pressing us into making a mistake or a mis-placed pass. At times our passing game had vanished completely with our trademark diagonal ball out wide being overhit or just miles from it's intended target. We were playing more high balls over the top from defence too in an obvious move to accommodate Ironside even though he has stated that he prefers the ball to his feet.
Until almost the end of the half we saw very little real goal threatening from either side and both seemed content to engage in a midfield battle. That was broken by a Daniel Nti cross that found the head of Joe Ironside for the first time in the game but was blocked on the line by Ellis. Ryan Croasdale also had a shot called the visitors keeper, Peter Crook, into action for the first time but from the stands it looked more like a soft pass that was never going to threaten a paper bag.