Harrogate Railway fought back from two goals down to progress to the preliminary round of the FA Cup courtesy of a thrilling win over Thackley.
After a goalless first period at Dennyfield, seven goals were scored after half-time as Liam Gray’s men eventually triumphed by a 4-3 scoreline.
“It’s the perfect way to start the season, we’ve showed great character to recover from 2-0 to come back and win the game,” player-boss Gray reflected.
“To be honest, I’d rather we’d done it this way than won the game easily by a couple of goals. We’ve shown that we’ve got it in us to recover from a position where we were up against it.
“This group of players has only been together for five weeks, but they’ve proved that there is real spirit in the camp by doing what they did at Thackley.
“We wanted to progress in the FA Cup because it’s a great competition and the prize money is so important to clubs at our level. This result also sets us up for our first league game on Wednesday night.
“There were so many positives to take from Saturday that we can now carry forward into the rest of the season.”
The first half of Railway’s first competitive fixture of 2017/18 was an even affair, but without much incident in front of goal.
It did however take just 60 seconds of the second period for a goal to arrive as the hosts took the lead in the extra preliminary round clash.
Mike Garrod’s cross was turned into his own net by Rail centre-half Ryan Basi and Thackley then doubled their advantage in the 64th minute when Joseph Hughes burst through on goal and fired past James Webster.
Just a minute later, the men from Station View got themselves back in the game when substitute striker Elliot Williams capitalised on a defensive mix-up and netted from close range.
Williams then levelled the scores with 70 minutes on the clock, applying the finishing touch to Jordan Hendrie’s cross.
Railway moved ahead for the first time in the match in stunning fashion when Mick O’Connell’s powerful long-range effort flew into the net via the underside of the crossbar.
The home team made it 3-3 in the 83rd minute when George Eustance’s strike was deflected past his own goalkeeper by Hendrie, and a replay looked to be on the cards.
But Gray’s troops weren’t finished there and striker Luke Stewart used his pace to break clear of the Thackley defence before sliding the ball past the advancing gloveman with just two minutes remaining.
Victory for the Railwaymen earns them £1,500 in prize money and sets up a home meeting with Evo-Stik Division One North outfit Kendal Town in the next round, to be played on August 19.