Harro-ing End Sees County Sulphur
The Hatters lost for the first time on their travels this season, after newly-arrived loanee Alex Bradley’s late goal saw them edged out at Harrogate Town by the odd goal in three.
They had earlier come from behind in their third away-match running – on this occasion, courtesy of second-half substitute Nyal Bell – only to return back across the Pennines empty-handed when debutant Bradley, who had signed on a season-long loan for the ‘Sulphurites’ from Lincoln City earlier in the day, struck three minutes into added time.
County took to Wetherby Road’s 3G surface on a gloriously sunny afternoon, showing no changes from the starting line-up for a third successive game – while Sam Walker, having been ruled out of the last two fixtures with a groin problem, was named as a substitute in place of Sam Curran.
For the first time since the season’s commencement, the Hatters had enjoyed a full week off between games – and they duly got off to a lively start, earning four corners within the opening quarter of an hour. But the hosts presented a danger on the break – and one-time Harrogate loanee, Ash Palmer, had to be at his best in breaking up an attack after Bradley was teed up in the County box by Jack Muldoon.
County’s first attempt on target, with 20 minutes on the clock, saw in-form Adam Thomas’ shot on the turn from the edge of the area smothered by James Belshaw – who, two minutes latter, blocked an angled effort from the same player at closer range.
Ahead of the half-hour mark, Bradley had a glorious, early opportunity to mark his inaugural appearance for the Sulphurites with a goal – but, after cutting in from the right, he dragged his shot wide of the far post. And shortly afterwards, the Hatters countered – with Thomas firing into the near side-netting, after Frank Mulhern had laid off to him Ben Jackson’s cross from the left.
Mulhern – another Hatter who had once turned out on loan for Harrogate, albeit only by way of a 20-minute cameo appearance off the bench in late 2017 – fired straight at Belshaw, following good work on the right by Sam Minihan. And four minutes before the break, Belshaw’s opposite Number One Ben Hinchliffe parried Ryan Fallowfield’s fiercely-struck drive around the right post.
HALF-TIME: Harrogate 0, County 0.
The contest continued to be an open one upon the resumption, with the hosts having the better of the opening exchanges – and going close when late first-half substitute George Smith’s cross from the left was fired past the near upright by Mark Beck.
Beck then went one better nine minutes into the half, and with service from the opposite flank – as he bundled home Fallowfield’s looping delivery from the right to give Harrogate the lead.
Four minutes later, Beck flicked on to Bradley, whose attempt was deflected behind by the legs of Hinchliffe. The resulting corner on the right from Brendan Kiernan clipped County’s crossbar, before Hinchliffe again came to the rescue – tipping over home captain Josh Falkingham’s shot.
The Hatters were up against it – but cometh the hour, cometh the man. Bell entered the fray after 62 minutes – and within another eight had got County back on terms, after Osborne won the ball from Falkingham near the right byline and squared to the substitute, who rifled high into the net.
But just as County looked to be completing a trilogy of one-all draws away from home, Kiernan delivered a low cross from the right for Bradley to convert that late, late winner from the edge of the box.
FULL-TIME: Harrogate 2 (Beck, 54; Bradley, 90 +3), County 1 (Bell, 70).
Team (4-2-3-1): Hinchliffe; Minihan, Keane, Palmer, Cowan; Turnbull (Capt.), Osborne; Thomas (Bell, 62), Dimaio (Walker, 52), Jackson; Mulhern (Kirby, 81).
Unused Subs: Ormson, Arthur.
Attendance: 1,326 (526 representing The Twelfth Man).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.