Harrogate Town 3-1 Stalybridge Celtic: Turnaround puts Town level on top of National League North

Dom Knowles scored Town's third and gained two assists
Dom Knowles scored Town's third and gained two assists

Harrogate Town made home advantage count as they came from behind to beat Stalybridge Celtic 3-1 and move level on points with AFC Fylde at the top of National League North.

Town fell behind against a fierce wind in the first half through Andy Owens' 23rd minute header.

However Andi Thanoj's introduction at half time turned fortunes into Town's favour and the substitute levelled with a fierce left-footed effort.

JP Pittman gave Town the lead four minutes later with his eighth of the season before Dom Knowles settled the points with a cool finish.

The fixture had been scheduled to take place in Stalybridge but was reverted to Harrogate following a floodlight failure at Bower Fold on Monday.

A minute's silence was held prior to kick off following the death of former Town defender Daniel Wilkinson during Shaw Lane's match at Brighouse Town on Monday night.

Jack Emmett played with Wilkinson at Loughborough University but Simon Weaver had no concern in drafting the winger back into his starting line-up at the expense of Andi Thanoj.

Dom Knowles was also recalled after impressing in Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Alfreton Town in place of Chib Chilaka.

After an under par performance at Alfreton, Town again started slowly back on the familiar 3G with the severe wind in their face following the visitors' decision to swap ends at the coin toss.

Weaver's side were attempting to hang the ball into the air for front duo Knowles and Pittman and Stalybridge defenders Shea Gordon and Matthew Hughes won header after header.

Goalmouth action came at a premium at both ends in the first 20 minutes with Stalybridge fashioning two half chances.

Town struggled to get out of their half and Stalybridge took the advantage when Andy Owens gave Peter Crook no chance, heading home Aidan Chippendale's cross from six yards.

The visitors continued to pen Town back, with the wind heavily assisting, and could have had a second when Chippendale crashed a 40-yard free-kick against the crossbar.

Fresh from the thud of the woodwork, Town pressed for their best attack of the first half on a fast counter attack. Joe Colbeck broke quick down the right but his low cross was diverted wide by Knowles at the back post.

Weaver sent Thanoj on for the ineffective Emmett at the break and within six minutes, the decision paid divident.

Pittman touched the ball Knowles, who teed up the subsitute from 25 yards to fire home a rasping left-footed drive.

With the wind now in their sails - and on their backs - Town found a second four minutes later. Stalybridge's centre-halves dropped deep and allowed Pittman space outside the box and the box to lash home his eighth goal of the season.

Town were now well in control of proceedings, and possession with Joe Leesley given freedom in the centre of the park.

With 15 minutes remaining, Dominic Knowles doubled Town's advantage with a third fine strike. The striker gathered on the edge of the box, twisted left and then right before unleashing a curling effort in off the bar.

Adam Mather gave Town a reminder the visitors were still in the fixture with a vicious effort from distance that Peter Crook tipped onto his crossbar and behind.

Shots from distance were a theme of the half and Thanoj tested Tony McMillan's glovework in the Stalybridge net before Daniel Wilkins did likewise to Town number one Crook.

Town could have added a fourth late on but Chib Chilaka failed to head home Colbeck's cross with the goal gaping.