Harrogate Town 0-3 Worcester City: Second half collapse sees Town thrashed

Harrogate Town striker Jake Speight remains without a league goals since joining in the summer (1411012AM10)
Harrogate Town striker Jake Speight remains without a league goals since joining in the summer (1411012AM10)
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Harrogate Town crashed to an eighth defeat of the season with an abject display against Worcester City at the CNG Stadium on Saturday.

Three second half goals were enough to give the in-form Worcester side a second triumph over Town this campaign and extend their own unbeaten streak to 11 matches.

Substitute Daniel Nti delivered two goals betwixt a classy strike from Sean Geddes as Townlost the midfield battle in the second half.

A small pocket of the club’s vocal support booed the team off after the match as Harrogate dropped 11 points outside of the play-off places in 13th in Vanarama North.

Despite hobbling off with a twisted ankle during the 4-1 Hyde victory last week, key striker James Walshaw retained his place in Simon Weaver’s starting line-up. And the forward fashioned the first opportunity of the clash with a whipped strike over the bar from Lloyd Kerry’s smart corner.

Lewis Turner then tested the palms of Worcester stopper Nathan Vaughan with a rasping half-volley destined for the top corner.

Town continued to enjoy most of the early possession and territory and Vaughan had to be alert again when McGurk turned Craig Nelthorpe’s wayward drive goalwards - saving the ball with his legs onto the post.

Vaughan was Worcester’s player of the first half and he sped off his line to deny Jake Speight a one-on-one opportunity on the half-hour - as the forward remained without a league goal this campaign.

Shortly after, a mix-up in the Town defence gave Nick Wright a poacher’s chance at the back post but the visiting winger stabbed the ball narrowly wide.

Town had just shaded the opening half, and with the volume of the home support turning up a notch after the break, they began lively with Walshaw and Speight both making strong forward runs.

However, it was Worcester full-back Tyler Weir who had the first shot of the second period as he curled over from outside the box. And the visitors should have taken the lead on 58 minutes when Connor Gater steered a clever corner wide of the far post from the penalty spot.

The pressure eventually told on the 65th minute when Worcester substitute Nti fired home. Town had afforded Nti too much space on the edge of the box, and with one of his first touches of the game, he sweetly curled a crisp shot past Phil Barnes.

Boss Simon Weaver made an immediate reaction with a double substitution - Speight and Nelthorpe making way for Lloyd Kerry and last week’s goalscorer Louie Swain.

However, his side were almost fighting back from two behind minutes later when Jordan Murphy shot wide.

Alex Metcalfe was sacrificed for Simon Lenighan with 15 minutes to go but the replacement endured an error-strewn time.

And it was shortly after his misplaced pass up-field that the visitors added to their lead. Again, Town allowed Worcester too much time on the ball and Geddes crafted a brilliant curling effort into the top corner, evading Barnes’ despairing dive.

Swain, attempting to replicate his Hyde piledriver, saw one shot gathered by Vaughan late on, before Worcester captain Wayne Thomas - who was the outfield player to deny Town in goal in the reverse fixture - excellently headed a Nelthorpe cross for a corner with Swain lurking behind him.

Town’s late flurry also saw Vaughan hold Meynell’ low strike and Swain force another smart save out of the visiting goalkeeper.

But in truth, it was an abject Town performance after the break as Weaver’s side fell to their eighth league defeat of the campaign.

And a horrible defensive mix-up in the final moments, with Turner, McGurk and Adam Nowakowski all involved, allowed Nti to swoop in and add a painful look to the scoreline as the clock struck injury-time.