Burrell strike not enough to save Town at Nuneaton

Warren Burrell was on target for Harrogate Town at Nuneaton. Picture: Town Pix
Warren Burrell was on target for Harrogate Town at Nuneaton. Picture: Town Pix
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Warren Burrell’s late goal was not enough to prevent Harrogate Town returning from Nuneaton empty-handed after a 2-1 loss at Liberty Way.

Greg Mills’ wind-assisted free-kick sailed in at the back post in first-half stoppage-time to give the hosts the advantage, before Devon Kelly-Evans’ driven finish looked to have sealed the defeat five minutes from time.

Burrell’s explosive 25-yard volley with three minutes remaining gave Town hope of rescuing a point, but Nuneaton held firm and claimed the victory.

Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver made four changes from last weekend’s dramatic draw with Salford City, recalling both Andi Thanoj and Luke Shiels, who had both been side-lined with injury.

Town’s top scorer Simon Ainge had the first attempt of the afternoon after just two minutes, heading Joe Colbeck’s cross towards goal, but into the path of Nuneaton stopper Tyrell Belford.

The biggest chance of the opening exchanges fell to Kelly-Evans who found himself through on goal after a long clearance was helped on, but blazed his effort high and wide.

The hosts had another chance to grab an opener after 20 minutes when Jordan Nicholson attempted a clever flick at the near post, only for visiting gloveman Chris Elliott to turn the attempt round the post.

Just as it looked like the two sides would bring an uneventful first 45 to an even end, Mills’ free kick looked to take an unusual swerve in the strong wind and find its way past Elliott.

The Town stopper was called into action immediately after the interval, having to keep out Kelvin Langmead’s looping effort from sailing into the top corner.

Weaver’s side then rattled the woodwork on the hour-mark as Shiels launched himself at Leesley’s corner only to see his attempt crash back off the cross bar.

Another Leesley corner caused more panic among the Nuneaton back line minutes later and ignited a scramble at the far post, though no Town player was able to provide a finishing touch and the hosts cleared.

With 15 to play, JP Pittman almost pulled his side level with a trademark goal as the forward collected possession in the left channel and saw his shot from a narrow angle kept out by Belfort.

Danny Ellis’ underhit pass back almost presented Ashley Chambers with Nuneaton’s second just five minutes from time, though Town’s captain recovered excellently to prevent the ball crossing the line.

The hosts’ second of the afternoon did arrive just seconds later, however, as Kelly-Evans picked up a loose ball from a corner, drove into the box and found the bottom left corner of Elliott’s net.

Just like last weekend against Salford, the contest sprung into life in the closing minutes as Burrell lashed home a volley from 25 yards to set up a frantic finish.

Town poured forward looking for a late leveller, but Jack Emmett’s goalbound attempt was blocked just as the ball dropped to the winger’s feet, and Nuneaton held on.

A third defeat in their last four keeps the Sulphurites 11th in the National League North table.