‘Boro’ and Town play out pre-season draw

Paul Eagling opened his account for Knaresborough Town against Harrogate Town
Paul Eagling opened his account for Knaresborough Town against Harrogate Town

Knaresborough Town and Harrogate Town played out an entertaining 1-1 draw at Manse Lane in their first pre-season fixture of the new season.

Simon Weaver’s side dominated the first quarter of the game and took the lead through an Alan White thunderbolt on the edge of the area.

But Paul Eagling’s smart finish right on the stroke of half-time was enough to grab a share of the spoils.

Town took to the game the stronger, but credit to ‘Boro’ who more than held their own against the Wetherby Roaders, four places above them in the football pyramid.

Town fielded two new faces alongside their summer signings of Dave Merris, Dwayne Samuels and Shane Killock.

Former Chester and Bradford City midfielder Indy Aujla started just in front of the back four.

Ex-Macclesfield ‘keeper Jose Veiga replaced Mark Cook between the sticks.

‘Boro’,meanwhile, gave debuts to Dave Burniston, Eagling, Ben Clayton, all signings from Boroughbridge, and Ben’s brother Dan, who is still on the books at Wetherby Road.

Town looked strong in the opening ten minutes.

Adam Nowakowski had a goal bound header blocked by one of his own players on nine minutes. But from the resulting corner they took the lead.

Jonny Allan found some space on the edge of the area. Instead of shooting he laid the ball on a plate for White who slammed home a screamer from 25-yards.

Alex Meechan forced a superb save from Jack Rushworth on 16 minutes, as it looked like the away side were about to run riot.

But ‘Boro’ are made of stern stuff and dug in deep to keep their neighbours at bay.

Eagling was slowly getting into the game and it was good work by two ex-Aldborough Road lads who drew the match level.

Eagling latched on to a clearance to bear down on goal. Dan Clayton was up in support, a neat one-two between the two saw Eagling race clear and find the net despite Veiga getting a good hand to it right on the stroke of half-time.

At the break Town changed their defence with Killock and White replaced by Matt Bloomer and Danny Stimpson. It was a welcome return for Stimpton who missed the whole of last season with a serious knee injury.

He coped well on his return.

Craig Radcliffe slotted in for Merris, with only Samuels staying on.

Up front Chib Chilaka got a run out, as did Lee Elam and later on Rob Youhill and Josh Garbutt and two other trialists were also introduced.

The new-look Town squad struggled to gell as well as those on in the first 45. Chilaka, Youhill both missed golden opportunities to regain the lead. Rushworth also pulled off another magnificent save to keep his side on level terms.

But either side of this ‘Boro’ were more than a match for Town.

Dave Thomas and Burniston both had stormers at the back. Byron Littlefair was excellent at right back.

Ben Clayton fitted into his new role like a glove, and Eagling was a threat up front.

With the match winding down, Davey was able to bring on former Leeds United man Seb Carole to stretch his legs.

He was certainly a threat with a number of mazy runs in the Town half.

He almost made it an afternoon to remember for ‘Boro’, but he skewed wide the last kick of the game when he should have done better.

On this evidence ‘Boro’ will be a match for any team in the Northern Counties. For Town the pre-season journey continues with a trip to Ossett Albion in eight days’ time.

“When you look at the players we’re missing, the likes of Paul Stansfield, Jimmy Bradley, Matt Duerdan, we had seven out, I was ringing around Friday night trying to get a team and feeling a bit worried,” said Davey after the game.

“But the lads who played and the ones who came in were excellent. Town were strong in the first 20 minutes or so and I thought ‘oh no here we go,’ but we came into it more as the game went on.”

Town boss Simon Weaver was complimentary of ‘Boro’ but was pleased with the intense run out.

“It was a nice pitch, a good competitive game and everyone got 45 minutes in at least.

“It was great just to get that on that scale, when you’re training on a smaller scale and doing a lot of leg weights and running it’s not the same.

“A lot of players were a bit leggy but it’s always the case and the guys had to blow the cobwebs away and get the first 45 out of the way. It was a really good blow out.

“I thought Knaresborough were excellent. It’s a superb set up down here, a huge pitch we looked at that and thought great, lots of running.

“I was really impressed with them, and I think they’ll go far.”