It’s been a week of highs and lows for Harrogate Town.
They registered their biggest ever victory under Simon Weaver on Tuesday, only to lose 2-1 at home to struggling Vauxhall Motors on Saturday.
Weaver’s troops scored six goals against Corby, so had a lot to live up to against Motors.
Chib Chilaka bagged a hat-trick on Tuesday, and new midfielder Tom Platt also impressed, so the pressure was on for the pair to repeat their performances against a side in serious relegation trouble.
Unfortunately neither player was able to replicate the same form, and the result was a blow as Town aim to cement their Blue Square North status for another season.
But there were things Town can be happy about, with decent debuts for new centre half Ashley Palmer, signed on loan from Scunthorpe, and right back Andrew Burns from Bradford City.
Goalkeeper Mark Cook pulled off some superb saves, and Tuesday’s heroics brought a much improved crowd of 450 to the CNG Stadium.
Kicking off in brilliant sunshine against a strong wind, Town made a confident start, Chilaka deemed offside by a whisker after six minutes.
The powerful striker, roared on by the crowd every time he got the ball, secured a corner in the 12th minute, which Vauxhall ‘keeper Scott Tynan bungled out for another corner.
But Vauxhall looked threatening when striker Dan Parkinson’s pass to Craig Mahon saw him unleash a firecracker directed just to the right of Mark Cook’s goal.
Town began to turn up the pressure after 20 minutes, and went close to scoring when Platt fired a shot at Tynan, but the ‘keeper knocked out.
Half an hour gone, and Town still looked the more likely to open the scoring, Palmer just missing out with a header from a Radcliffe corner, and Paul Bolland’s rebound shot deftly saved by Tynan.
The Motors goal was put under immense pressure in the 35th minute, after a terrific run by Alex Meechan ended in a corner.
But the Motors defence was proving difficult to unlock,
Vauxhall’s Tom Hannigan earned Town a corner after clearing Bolland’s effort out four minutes before half-time, but still Town could not pick the lock.
And so the second half began still nil-nil.
A minute in, Paul Bolland’s cross into the box met Paul Brayson, but the striker chose to shoot straight into Tynan’s hands, instead of passing to the unmarked Chilaka.
Brayson went close again in the 57th minute but Vauxhall’s valiant defence still refused to buckle.
At the other end meanwhile, Cook got down well to save a speculative drive from left back Lee Dames.
Brayson should have scored on 62 minutes when put through by Rob Youhill, with only Tynan to beat.
But he opted to pass left to Meechan, who was too slow to connect, and that convinced Weaver to replace Meechan with Lee Elam.
And the boss showed no mercy with his substitutions as Chilaka made way for Jonny Allan in the 72nd minute, and Brayson was changed for Will Turl on 76 minutes.
Town were slowly being pushed back by the visitors, Cook pulling off another sensational save when Parkinson rifled a shot at goal, and another one with his legs when Dames lashed home from out wide.
The game was slowly deteriorating when Vauxhall hit Town for six in the 85th minute.
From a seemingly innocuous shot by David Mannix, the ball dropped perfectly for Tom Hannigan, whose looping header outfoxed Cook.
And worse was to come. A poor clearance by Burns in the 90th minute saw Mahon win the ball in the box, only to be scythed down by Bolland.
Referee Joe Buglass pointed to the spot, and striker Josh Wilson made no mistake, firing comfortably into the net as Cook dived the wrong way.
Town did pull one back, the ball rebounding off Allan into the net in the fourth minute of injury time but it was too late.
Vauxhall had outlasted Town physically, biding their time against the tiring hosts, despite making no substitutions.
After Tuesday night’s 6-2 celebrations, it was a bitter pill for Town and their supporters to swallow.
Elswhere HARROGATE RAILWAY were without a game today.
IN the NCEL Premier TADCASTER ALBION lost 4-1 at home to leaders Bridlington Town.
Scott Pallister scored Albion’s only goal.
BOROUGHBRIDGE won their League Cup quarter-final with KNARESBOROUGH TOWN 2-1.
Teams:Harrogate Town: Cook, Burns, Radcliffe, Platt, Palmer, Bloomer, Youhill, Bolland, Brayson (Turl 76), Chilaka (Allan 72), Meechan (Elam 63); Brough, Emmett.
Vauxhall Motors: Tynan, Fearnehough, Dames, Hannigan (, Jones, Burke, Mahon, Mannix, Parkinson, Wilson, Holsgrove; Wynn, Egerton, Horne, Ogden.