Town fall six points behind leaders despite draw at Brackley
Harrogate Town produced a gritty display to earn themselves a draw from their trip to Brackley Town, but now find themselves six points behind league leaders Salford City.
Simon Weaver’s men do hold a game in hand on National League North’s top team - Good Friday victors over Curzon Ashton - however with just six matches remaining there is very little margin for error as far as their hopes of grabbing pole position are concerned.
The Town boss made one change from Tuesday night’s defeat to Spennymoor as Jake Wright replaced Dominic Knowles in attack.
The contest started at a frantic pace and Jack Emmett sliced John McCombe’s knock-back just off target, moments before the centre-back was well-placed to block an attempt on goal at the other end.
Third-placed Brackley’s Glenn Walker and visiting midfielder Emmett both went close with individual efforts after taking on defenders, but neither could hit the target.
Heavy rain had been hammering down all afternoon, resulting in large muddy patches all around the field, with one near the Brackley goalmouth contributing to a scramble eventually cleared after good work from Jake Wright to get to the byline.
Town almost edged ahead in the 37th minute when Joe Leesley’s curling effort was dropped by Danny Lewis, but the home custodian recovered in time to keep out Wright’s follow up.
Four minutes later, James Armson found space on the edge of the box and tried to pick out the bottom corner of the away net, but James Belshaw kept out the effort with a fantastic one-handed save.
On the hour-mark, moments after Emmett’s pull-back had agonisingly missed everyone in the Brackley box, Lee Ndlovu could only find the side-netting when trying to convert Shane Byrne’s low cross.
Then, with 16 minutes of normal-time remaining, Belshaw made a crucial stop to keep the scores level, keeping out Aaron Williams’ finish when the Brackley top-scorer had a clear sight of goal.
Ndlovu almost found the winning touch with five minutes to play, but the ball somehow squirmed wide of the post as the home number nine got on the end of a low cross at the back post.
A minute later home fans were incensed as Belshaw looked to have brought down a Brackley attacker inside his own penalty area, but the Town stopper won the ball first and ensured that the game ended goalless and the points were shared.