Knaresborough Town dig deep for comeback victory over fellow high-flyers
Knaresborough Town struck a significant blow in the NCEL Premier Division promotion race when they came from behind to beat fellow high-flyers Hemsworth Miners Welfare.
Paul Stansfield's men took advantage of the inactivity of the top two - Yorkshire Amateur and Penistone Church - narrowing the gap between themselves and the summit courtesy of a 3-2 success in West Yorkshire.
And Saturday's victory also leaves third-placed Boro with a healthy five-point advantage over hosts Hemsworth, the side directly below them in the league standings.
The Manse Lane outfit didn't just have to overcome an early set-back after falling behind in the eighth minute, but also had to contend with freezing cold and extremely wet playing conditions.
Home forward Nash Connolly looked suspiciously offside when he converted a low cross from the left to open the scoring, however the goal stood and Boro were left with work to do.
Steve Bromley was thwarted by Jordan Greaves in the Miners' goal as they attempted to respond, before Brad Walker and Josh Garbutt both fired wide.
Visiting stopper Jack Rushworth did have to save from Brad Dockerty at the other end, though the first period ended with Gregg Anderson seeing an effort cleared from the Hemsworth line.
It took Stansfield's troops only four minutes of the second half to make a breakthrough, however, Conor Donoghue finding Bromley who headed on for the in-form Garbutt to volley home his seventh goal in three matches.
Ben Cohen was then denied by Greaves, while Will Lenehan fired over when he should have scored before the hosts re-took the lead in the 68th minute.
Following a quick break, Connolly shook off Donoghue’s challenge and drew Rushworth before picking out the back of the net for the second time.
Despite this blow and awful conditions, rain-soaked Boro went on to demonstrate what a resilient group they have become by levelling matters once again.
With 73 minutes on the clock, Luke Stewart evaded a late challenge on the edge of the penalty area before passing inside for Cohen to finish at the second attempt.
Hemsworth were then reduced to 10 men when Stephen Wakefield was dismissed and the visitors almost capitalised immediately as Stewart broke through, only to see Greaves make another good stop.
In the 83rd minute, the Knaresborough endeavour was however rewarded when Rob Worrall’s pass found Stewart who advanced and saw a further strike kept out by Greaves.
The ball flew across to Cohen, who despite finding himself at the narrowest of angles, placed his shot first time into the net for 3-2.
Home captain Jason Yates then got himself sent off and Knaresborough were able to ease themselves toward the warm sanctuary of the changing rooms with a vital three points in the bag.