Harrogate Town 2 Gloucester City 1
Harrogate Town claimed a sixth victory from their last eight matches on Saturday afternoon with a hard earned win over Gloucester City.
After an uneventful first 45 minutes at the CNG Stadium, a second half double from Jordan Thewlis put Town in control of the contest.
Sahr Kabba halved the visitors’ deficit with just over 15 minutes to go; sparking a frantic end to the match, only for Harrogate to hold on and claim all three points.
Town Manager Simon Weaver made one change to the side that defeated Gainsborough 1-0 on Tuesday, replacing Paul Walker with recent loan signing from Grimsby Town Paddy McLaughlin.
The first half began at a slow pace with efforts from Adam Connolly and Paul Clayton failing to trouble either goalkeeper.
The spectacle wasn’t being helped by referee Michael Salisbury’s eagerness to blow his whistle and took until the mid-point of the half for either team to create a chance.
Having received a pass from Mike Green on the right wing, Gloucester midfielder Harry White embarked on a mazy run into the Harrogate Town box before cutting inside and sending a left footed shot not far past the post.
As if sparked into action by Gloucester’s attempt, Town threatened themselves just moments later only for Jack Emmett’s teasing cross to be crucially intercepted by Billy Jones, inches before Thewlis could make contact with the delivery.
Weaver’s men struggled to gather momentum during the opening half, while Gloucester constantly looked to use the pace of Kabba in behind the Harrogate defence to no great affect.
In what was the last action of a largely forgettable first half, Ryan Fallowfield, playing his last game for the club, saw his effort comfortably saved by Paul White in the Gloucester goal after new signing McLaughlin had shown tenacity to regain possession.
Whatever Weaver had said to his players during the break had clearly worked; Fallowfield saw his powerful shot well blocked by Matt Williams minutes prior to Thewlis managingto get a shot on target despite close attention from a Gloucester defender as Town started to look dangerous.
Ten minutes into the half, Town got the opening they had been searching for as Thewlis broke the deadlock to give his side a 1-0 lead.
Excellent hold up play from Clayton brought Louie Swain into the game on the left before the marauding full back cut the ball back into the path of Thewlis to smash home from close range.
The goal seemed to give Thewlis a considerable boost in confidence and the diminutive winger looked unplayable at times; nutmegging Gloucester defenders and providing a constant danger on the left wing.
Harrogate’s number 10 then provided a moment of real individual quality to double Town’s advantage. Emmett had cleverly drifted from right to left to overload the Gloucester defence, and when he offloaded the ball to Thewlis, the winger drove with purpose into the penalty area and sent a low shot past White at his near post.
Now facing a mountain to climb, Gloucester Manager Tim Harris made a double substitution with Femi Orenuga and Nathan Modest replacing Harry White and Mo Diop.
Harris’ changes almost paid instant dividends as, moments after coming on, Orenuga found space inside the Harrogate box and crashed a shot against the crossbar only for his attempt to bounce back out on the wrong side of the goal line.
Town ‘keeper Peter Crook was then forced into a save from Ross Staley before Gloucester’s persistence paid off and they pulled a goal back.
Initially Crook looked to have pulled off a magnificent divingsave from an unmarked Sam Avery’s looping header, however, the ball cruelly dropped in front of an empty net for Kabba to tap home.
Now with the wind in their sails, Gloucester almost levelled the scores minutes later. Jones’ corner was met by the head of Chris Knowles whose powerful effort almost fell again to Kabba after Crook had parried before Harrogate eventually cleared to safety.
Approaching the final 15 minutes, Town seemed happy to hit on the break in an attempt to solidify at the back as the tempo of the game had dramatically increased since taking a two goal lead.
The approach seemed to do the trick as only Orenuga’sambitious lob that sailed way over and near post shot into the arms of Crook presented any danger to Harrogate’s lead in the closing stages.
The 2-1 win sees Harrogate move above North Ferriby into 12th while defeat for Gloucester means they remain 18th and dangerously close to the drop zone.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Fallowfield, Swain, Franks(Nowakowski, 45), Turner, Bloomer, Nyoni, McLaughlin, Clayton, Thewlis (Speight, 75), Emmett
Subs not used: Walshaw, Worsfold, Walker
Goals: Thewlis 55, 64
Gloucester City: White, Green, Jones, Harris (Williams, 45), Avery, Knowles, Connolly, White (Orenuga, 66), Diop(Modest, 66), Kabba, Staley
Subs not used: Richards, Hamilton
Goal: Kabba 74
Referee: M. Salisbury
Words: Hal Boxhall-Dockree