Harrogate Town 1 Leamington 1: Brakes put a dent in Harrogate’s play-off push with a Mace-inspired draw

Brakes returned from a long haul to Yorkshire with a creditable point from a Harrogate Town side whose chances of gatecrashing the play-off places suffered as a result, writes Paul Edwards.
Liam Daly rushes to congratulate Brakes goalscorer James Mace. Picture: Sally EllisLiam Daly rushes to congratulate Brakes goalscorer James Mace. Picture: Sally Ellis
Liam Daly rushes to congratulate Brakes goalscorer James Mace. Picture: Sally Ellis

Leamington were full value for their half-time advantage as they had looked the brighter of the two sides in the opening 45 minutes.

However, the hosts made changes at half-time and looked far more purposeful after the break, levelling things up just past the hour- mark after Brakes had lost possession in their own half.

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The game got off to a scrappy start with neither goalkeeper threatened by the half-chances created.

Town saw the ball cleared off the Leamington goalline as they forced a couple of corners but it was the visitors who took the lead with the first clear opening of the game in the 27th minute.

The goal came from an unlikely source in James Mace, the defender crashing in his first of the season from six yards as the ball dropped invitingly for him from a corner.

Reece Flanagan was busy again in central midfield, benefitting from a couple of ricochets to win possession and drive a low shot just past the post.

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Simon Weaver shuffled his pack at half-time, replacing Steve Mallory and Liam Hardy with Adam Bolder and Cleveland Taylor, and this seemed to have an effect as Harrogate began to look more threatening.

For an awful moment it looked as though Mace and Tony Breeden might be about to suffer a repeat of their collision at Vauxhall Motors, which led to a goal as the goalscorer was forced to play the ball back towards his keeper.

Fortunately, Breeden read the danger and hurdled his teammate before clearing.

Danny Newton’s driving run saw him shoot straight at Craig MacGillivray, while Craig Nelthorpe fired across goal and just wide as Harrogate began to apply some pressure in search of the equaliser.

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Brakes remained resolute, however, but contributed somewhat to their own downfall in the 66th minute when they lost the ball from their own throw-in.

It was eventually played in low from the left and Ashley Worsfold swivelled well and fired low into the net.

Leamington tried to respond, Newton looping a header over the bar from a free-kick.

However, Harrogate continued to create, Worsfold sending a header flashing over the bar from a corner, while substitute Michael Woods’ rising drive was held by Breeden.

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Paul Holleran introduced Peter Till and Matt Dodd late on and the pair combined after some strong play from Joe Magunda, Till driving towards the penalty area to set up Dodd, only for his shot to lack the power to trouble MacGillivray.

Harrogate Town: Craig MacGillivray, Dwayne Samuels, Dave Merris, Anton Brown, Matt Heath, Matthew Bloomer, Steve Mallory (Cleveland Taylor, 46), Craig Nelthorpe, Ashley Worsfold, Liam Hardy (Adam Bolder, 46), Dan Clayton. Subs not used: Michael Woods, Jahmal Smith, Peter Crook.

Brakes: Tony Breeden, Ryan Higgins, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Liam Daly, James Mace, Aron Wint (Matt Dodd, 77), Reece Flanagan (Lee Moore, 89) Danny Newton, Nathan Hicks, Lee Chilton (Peter Till, 86). Subs not used: Ricky Johnson, David McNamee.