Conference North: Harrogate Town 2-2 Barrow

A debut strike by Jonathan Margetts and James Walshaw’s brilliant strike saw Harrogate Town hold title favourites Barrow two goals apiece at the CNG Stadium.
James Walshaw, scorer of Town's second on SaturdayJames Walshaw, scorer of Town's second on Saturday
James Walshaw, scorer of Town's second on Saturday

Andy Cook had put Barrow ahead in the first half, as Town struggled to find rhythm in the clash.

But a change of shape from Town gaffer Simon Weaver led to Margetts heading the hosts level before Walshaw’s 25-yard strike put them ahead with 20 minutes to go.

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Cook showed his class, however, to restore parity three minutes later as the points were shared.

Weaver handed debuts to Friday signings Anthony Griffith and Hull City loanee Jonathan Margetts

Margetts, whose dad Nick played for Town during the 1990’s, started up front alongside James Walshaw, while Simon Lenighan retained his place in midfield next to Griffith.

Town were found lacking defensively in the first 10 minutes as Barrow twice set their forwards towards goalkeeper Phil Barnes.

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First, Ted Cribley ran through all on his own but, after rounding Barnes, his tame shot was cleared excellently by the covering Rhys Meynell.

Minutes later, the Lancashire side were through again Anthony Wilson’s shameful dive warranted a yellow card by referee Paul Davison, when the former North Ferriby man tried to escape Barnes again.

On 20 minutes, the Lancashire visitors took a deserved lead. Prolific frontman Andy Cook chested former Town defender Andy Burns cross down before hitting low past Barnes.

Wilson rounded Barnes again after a lightning fast counter-attack but the Town back-four were level to the danger.

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Waves of White and Blue attacks continued and Robbie Williams headed wide when free at the back post.

As the rain streamed down on the CNG Stadium, Walshaw, sporting a bandage around his head after a collision, had Town’s best chance of the first period when one on one with Barrow keeper Tony McMillan, who made the save with his legs.

Simon Weaver substituted Griffith at the break and switched his side to 3-5-2, with Matt Bloomer filling a central defensive role.

The change saw Town playing with greater fluidity, and when Walshaw escaped in the area he chipped the ball onto Margott’s head for the youngster to score a debut goal.

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Barnes then kept the scores at one apiece with a superb fingertip stop to deny Niall Cowperthwaite from the edge of the box.

Moments after Swain headed straight at McMillan, Wilson had a trickling shot for Barrow rebound back off the post, and Heath denied him the follow up.

The third goal did arrive with 20 minutes remaining. Walshaw collected Swain’ pass 25 yards out, and he bent a beautiful shot around McMillan.

Town’s lead, which was the first time they had in the season so far, last just three minutes as former Grimsby Town forward Cook stole in to stab Paddy Lacey’s free-kick into the corner, giving Barnes no chance.

And, despite both teams pushing players forward in search of three points, the two bookmakers’ favourites from the start of the season finished level.