Harrogate Railway 1, Hall Road Rangers 2
Toolstation NCEL Premier Division
Saturday January 27
By Ollie Harsley
A very important 3 points were claimed by Hall Road Rangers on Saturday as they scored a late winner to give them a 2-1 victory at Harrogate Railway Athletic. It was much deserved and ends the winless run that the club were on which was dragging them closer to the bottom half of the NCEL Premier Division table.
Bill Gill was pleased his side kept their shape throughout the game and that every single player carried out the jobs they were supposed to be doing. “We looked more compact at the back and in goal, across the midfield was busy and competitive with the two lads up top busy and direct. New skipper Danny Norton led by example throughout”, Gill said.
The first half was fairly even and both sides had good chances to score. Hall Road goalkeeper James Hitchcock was called into action a couple of times but he managed to deal with the Harrogate Railway shots pretty comfortably apart from one occasion where he looked shaky. Rangers had chances of their own and they should have been more clinical in front of goal, it would have made their afternoon more comfortable had they converted those opportunities. Chris Spinks had two shots saved by the Harrogate Railway goalkeeper whilst Danny Norton saw his own shot go over the bar. Hall Road took the lead just before half time after Chris Spinks had been allowed to go through on goal after poor defending from the hosts and he slotted home calmly after rounding the goalkeeper.
Rangers started the second half with the same attacking intent and tempo. Gareth Owen saw his shot go wide of the Harrogate Railway goal and the hosts then began to claw back some more possession of the football. James Hitchcock was forced into making a terrific double save to keep out the hosts but the pressure kept on building and Hall Road eventually caved in. Fraser Lancaster grabbed the equaliser for Harrogate Railway in the 54th minute after some sloppy defending from Hall Road and the game became quite stretched from then on as both sides went for the winning goal. It could have been a more comfortable score line for Hall Road had Jack Griffin converted his penalty which was saved well by the Harrogate Railway goalkeeper but it luckily didn’t matter in the end. The winning goal was scored by substitute Conner Harman in the 90th minute as he stroked home with a very well taken finish to give the visitors all 3 points. It could have ended 2-2 as The Rail saw a massive chance go begging as it went just wide of the Hall Road goal.
Hall Road boss Bill Gill was delighted with the result but most importantly the way his side performed. “The performance against Harrogate Railway showed togetherness and hard work which got us our rewards along with that little bit of quality in front of goal from both Chris Spinks and Conner Harman. Yesterday, the lads matched their opponents and worked extremely hard for 90 minutes which gave us a fully deserved result which in the end could have easily been a higher score”, Gill said.
Jordan Clark and Dane Mortimer both started for Hall Road after joining the club earlier in the week. Clark had been involved with the first team in recent weeks but this was his first start for the club and he acquitted himself very well throughout the game. Mortimer and Sam Belcher in the middle of the Hall Road defence were both rock solid and provided the basis for the visitors to go and attack. Fellow new signings Joe Baxter and Leon Smith were named on the bench with Baxter coming on as a substitute in the second half.
Gill was also proud of his new signings who impressed on their debuts and didn’t look out of place in this Hall Road side. “Excellent debuts from Jordan Clark, Dane Mortimer and Joe Baxter. We also had Leon Smith on the bench who signed earlier in the day and travelled with the boys and was prepared to take part if needed along with Alex Stock who returned from injury”, Gill concluded.
It was a crucial win for Hall Road to get as they can now look up the table rather than looking down and it allows them to build up momentum for the games to come. They are next in action next Tuesday evening when they take on Hull City in the East Riding Senior Cup Quarter Finals