Ainge treble earns Town a point in dramatic finale

Simon Ainge netted a quick-fire hat-trick to earn Harrogate Town a point at home to Salford City. Picture: Town Pix
Simon Ainge netted a quick-fire hat-trick to earn Harrogate Town a point at home to Salford City. Picture: Town Pix
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Simon Ainge scored a stunning hat-trick in the final 10 minutes as Harrogate Town twice recovered from being two goals down to draw 3-3 with promotion-chasing Salford City.

The visitors were awarded the first of the afternoon’s four spot-kicks after 20 minutes, which Sam Walker converted, before a John Johnston screamer made it 2-0 after the hour-mark.

Salford looked on the way to a comfortable win, before a crazy final few minutes unfolded, beginning with Ainge converting a penalty with seven minutes of normal time remaining following a foul on Warren Burrell.

The gap was soon back to two though, as Nick Haughton dinked over Harrogate gloveman Chris Elliott on the counter-attack seconds after the visitors had seen their lead halved.

Referee Will Finnie then pointed to the spot for a third time when Lewis Turner was brought to ground, and though Ainge’s initial effort was saved, Town’s top-scorer converted the rebound.

Deep into stoppage time, the man in the middle pointed to the spot for a final time after JP Pittman’s low cross was handled.

Ainge again stepped up and completed his hat-trick and rescue his side a point, registering his 23rd goal of the season in the process.

A point for Simon Weaver’s men keeps them 11th in the National League North standings.