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Harrogate Town face FA Cup replay after 1-1 draw with Hastings

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Harrogate Town are in the FA Cup third round draw for the first time in their history - but will face the battle of Hastings for a second time after Saturday’s second round tie ended 1-1 at Wetherby Road.

In front of a crowd of 2,926, Town were excellent value in the first half, going 1-0 up through Tom Platt five minutes before the break.

But the Ryman Leaguers showed the grit that has carried them this far in the competition in the second half, turning up the pressure on their hosts before levelling with a strike by midfielder Jamie Crellin.

Both sides will now look forward to seeing who they will face in Sunday’s third round draw, as Premiership teams join the competition.

Boss Simon Weaver said: “It’s a mix of emotions. We were fantastic first half when the pitch was at its best.

“We created a lot of opportunities to score but didn’t capitalise on them and that gave Hastings encouragement they were still in the game at 1-0.

“I was proud of the efforts on a gluepot of a pitch, that minimised our efforts.

“We were well on top first half but Hastings put us under pressure in the second half.

“They were decent. But we’re both still in it and it could go either way.

“We had brilliant support from the crowd today, it was an extraordinary effort. We’re still in the third round draw, and looking forward to seeing who we’ve got.”

On a glorious day in Harrogate, the pre-match atmosphere was joyous as nearly 3,000 supporters poured into the CNG Stadium.

Heroic efforts by the groundsmen ensured the problematic pitch was match-ready after another week of shocking weather in North Yorkshire. It looked decent, although a few spade-fuls of sand were added just before kick-off, revealing the full extent of just how much water it was still holding.

Town enjoyed virtually all of the pressure in the first half, and were especially impressive in stamping their authority on the opening 15 minutes.

Hero of the last round Chib Chilaka set the tone, using his power to push past defender Josh Jirbandey to force a corner in the second minute.

Left back Dave Merris’s ball was perfectly placed but nobody stepped forward to dink it home.

Midfielder Adam Bolder then picked out right back Dwayne Samuels who delivered a perfectly weighted cross which winger Danny Forrest just failed to poke home as Hastings’ impressive defence held firm.

A Merris interception deep into Hastings territory provided Chilaka with another chance which just rolled out of reach on the boggy pitch, before the striker pushed forward again from out wide.

A fluffed clearance by Hastings’ goalkeeper Matt Armstrong-Ford allowed striker Paul Beesley to pounce just inside the box, and after a collision between the two, Beesley poked the ball into the net. But the goal was quickly disallowed - although the ball was loose during the collision, referee Mark Brown deemed it a poor challenge, booking Beesley. The keeper looked in trouble, and goal-kicking duties went to defender Josh Jirbandey after that.

Beesley had a perfect opportunity to make amends only minutes later, running on to a Merris throughball after the left back dispossessed Jirbandey. Unfortunately, the extra touch Beesley took in front of an open net slowed the ball, and Armstrong- Ford enjoyed an easy save.

Hastings had a chance with their first corner, and first attack of the match, but the ball went long.Striker Dee Okojie then went close with a shot which crept wide of the posts.

Meantime Town were still pushing. Samuels fired ahead for Chilaka, who stuck a leg out and squared the ball to Beesley. It was teed up beautifully, but Beesley’s shot drifted just left of the far post.

Alan White then went close with a header after a foul by Jamie Crellin handed Town a free kick. Unfortunately White nodded Merris’s ball across goal and Hastings breathed a sigh of relief.

Gradually though, the visitors were beginning to show what they were capable of. Leading scorer Bradley Goldberg was a proving something of a diminutive menace on the wing and in the 25th minute attempted an ambitious shot out wide.

Fortunately his looping attempt gave Town ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray little trouble.

However a loose pass by on Luke Dean on the half-way line allowed Hastings’ Jack Dixon to intercept and run upfield. His pass to Goldberg saw the winger zip into the box and tee up his chance before Shane Killock cleared the danger.

With half an hour gone, Goldberg was looking better and better, and the tables seemed to be turning.

Hastings were suddenly enjoying a spell of serious pressure just as Town seemed to go flat.

Carey won a free kick out wide, which Crellin nodded over the bar. Striker Zac Attwood also threatened with a jinking run up the wing before lashing into the box, Killock again heading clear.

Forty minutes in, Town won a corner through Dean. Merris fired in a superb ball, and at the far post Alan White booted back across goal. Chilaka got a touch but it fell perfectly to Platt, who slammed the ball home to the delight of the crowd.

Merris nearly made it 2-0 with an injury time shot, as a crestfallen Hastings were at sixes and sevens, struggling on the pitch which now looked extremely heavy.

SECOND HALF

Hastings looked determined to make amends after the break, Goldberg blasting over the bar, and left back Matt Whitehead attempting to chip MacGillivray from 35 yards out on the left wing.

A key moment of the game arrived when Danny Ellis was brought on to replace Okojie in the 51st minute. His inclusion immediately added more impetus, and underpinned the attacking forces of Goldberg and Zac Attwood.

Town were reduced to a handful of chances, Dean’s through ball unleashing Chilaka for a shot launched over the crossbar.

Dean won a free kick after a poor tackle from Crellin, Merris lining up the shot from 35 yards which White headed out for a goalkick.

But Hastings to their credit kept up the pressure, winning a corner in the 60th minute taken by Carey. Sean Ray’s header was comfortably gloved by MacGillivray.

Then after 61st minutes, came their chance and Hastings grabbed it with both hands. Receiving the ball from left back Whitehead, Goldberg raced around Samuels into the box and unleashed a shot. It rebounded off the post but Crellin pounced on the rebound to lash in the equaliser.

Town looked stunned by the goal, struggling to maintain composure and push upfield.

Carey had another free kick which Attwood threatened to poke home in the box, and Town were really hanging on now, all attack turned into defence.

Weaver replaced Forrest with Lee Elam on the wing, who made an impact by racing through the centre before laying off to Chilaka. Sadly, Chilaka’s pass to Samuels saw the right back easily dispossessed.

Hastings now had six in defence, and neither Chilaka or Beesley were doing much to break the lock.

Quarter of an hour left and Goldberg was working overtime to find the second goal.

He zipped into the box before laying off to Ellis, who passed across the box to Attwood. The striker, whose goal against Bishop’s Stortford put Hastings into the second round, should have fired home but bizarrely Atwood waited and fluffed his kick, so chance was gone as MacGillivray scooped up the ball.

Town were now in need of some new legs on the heavy pitch, as the clock ticked down.

Jonny Allan replaced Beesley, while Dan Clayton came on for Dean and had a immediate impact with 11 minutes to go.

Surging up the wing Clayton crossed in for Chilaka, who under pressure, headed against the post in an agonising missed opportunity.

At the other end, Hastings were being steadily reduced to long-range shots, and then a corner which Carey sent way off target for a goalkick.

Elam surged forward, and then won a free kick after a tackle from Ellis.

Adam Bolder took it but Hastings zoomed back downfield through Goldberg as Town were forced back into defence.

A tackle on Chilaka earned Merris a free kick, but White’s header was a fraction too high as it looped over the bar.

Three minutes of injury time left and Town were still trying as the replay beckoned.

Bolder earned another free kick, taken by Merris who fired into the box for the last time.

A collective breath was held by the Town fans as the ball came back out but Merris forced it back in, only for White to blast over the bar.

Time had run out, and Town will have to do it all again in just over a week’s time.

FA Cup 2nd round: Harrogate Town 1 Hastings Utd 1

Teams:

Harrogate Town: Craig MacGillivray, Dwayne Samuels, Dave Merris, Adam Bolder, Alan White, Shane Killock, Tom Platt, Luke Dean (Clayton 78), Chib Chilaka, Paul Beesley (Allan 78), Danny Forrest (Elam 68); Subs, Matt Bloomer, Adam Nowakowski, Jose Veiga, Paul Bolland.

Hastings United: Matt Armstrong-Ford, Elliott Cox, Matt Whitehead, Lee Carey, Sean Ray, Josh Jirbandey, Jack Dixon, Jamie Crellin, Dee Okoje (Ellis 51), Zac Atwood, Bradley Goldbery; Subs Scott Manning, Bailo Camara, Jonno Richardson, Charlie Bachellier, Joe Winchester, Gary Abbott.

Cards: Beesley yellow, Dean yellow, Jirbandey yellow

Attn: 2,926

 

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