Harrogate TownSpennymoor Harrogate TownSpennymoor
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Moors halted Harrogate Town’s seven game winning streak at The CNG Stadium as they claimed a memorable three points and took a giant stride towards securing a play-off berth.
A balanced first half was brought to life a minute before the interval when Liam Kitching was sent off for a reckless lunge on Rob Ramshaw.
Moors made their man advantage count in the second half and took a commanding lead when James Curtis and Andrew Johnson scored within twenty minutes of the restart.
Former Darlington striker Mark Beck scored from close range ten minutes from time to set up a tense finish, but Moors held on for a defining victory.
Jason Ainsley made five changes to the side who narrowly beat Leamington last Thursday, with Greg Rutherford replacing the injured Glen Taylor upfront.
Jamie Chandler, Chris Mason, Andrew Johnson and Ryan Hall replaced Nathan Lowe, Shane Henry, Chris Chantler and Bradley Fewster in the other four alterations.
Harrogate started full of confidence, perhaps unsurprising given their fantastic form, and went close when Kitching headed wide from Joe Leesley’s deep cross.
But, Moors began to grow into the game as the half wore on, with Ryan Hall scuffing a shot straight at the keeper, before Rutherford fired an effort which was headed away by a brave Harrogate defender.
With the half seemingly meandering to a tame conclusion, the game’s turning point came a minute before the interval.
Ramshaw showed some nifty footwork to get away from two Harrogate players before getting to a loose ball, and when he reached the ball first, the out of control Kitching lunged in dangerously.
The challenge triggered an angry reaction from the Moors players, and following melee, the referee showed the young Harrogate centre back a straight red card, handing the initiative to Jason Ainsley’s side.
But, despite the man advantage, the home side began the second half brightly and went close when substitute Ryan Fallowfield forced Dan Lowson into a smart stop.
However, Moors then began to seize control of the game, and after Simon Weaver opted to remove Joe Leesley following the dismissal of Kitching, they lacked a clinical edge going forward.
When the breakthrough eventually arrived it came from an unlikely source, as Curtis bulleted Mark Anderson’s driven corner past a helpless Belshaw to spark wild scenes from the players and travelling pocket of fans.
It was the defender’s first goal of the season, and it wasn’t long before Johnson was adding to Moors’ tally.
Joe Tait hit a long diagonal pass which Fallowfield attempted to chest back to Belshaw, but when he slipped, Johnson nipped in and slotted past the Harrogate keeper to register his 18th goal of the season in all competitions.
With a two goal lead and a man advantage under their belts, Moors sailed through the next fifteen minutes, almost adding to their lead through Hall, but as the game began to near the full time whistle, the home side rallied.
Jack Emmett was the architect for their eventual consolation, wriggling away from a challenge in the area before firing across goal for Beck to slam home from close range.
Beck almost equalised for Town moments later, but he couldn’t stretch enough to get on the end of a deep cross, before a corner was eventually launched clear following a goalmouth scramble.
There were unsavoury scenes in added time when both sets of players got involved in another melee behind Lowson’s goal.
Harrogate had one final chance to level up proceedings from a corner which goalkeeper Belshaw had adventured forward for, but Moors stood firm to record a precious three points in the race for the play-off’s.
A fourth meeting of the season with Gainsborough Trinity is up next for the rejuvenated Moors on Good Friday.
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