FC Halifax Town 0 Harrogate Town 1: Mark Beck's late strike decides Yorkshire derby
Mark Beck popped up with an 87th-minute goal to decide Tuesday night's Yorkshire derby clash between FC Halifax Town and Harrogate Town.
Simon Weaver's team worked hard and remained solid throughout in an extremely well-contested affair at The Shay, but looked destined for a third consecutive National League draw after failing to capitalise on some good first-half chances.
That was until Beck struck late on to earn his side their first victory in four matches and just their fourth of 2019/20.
Town began well enough, shading the opening stages, but lacking that bit of quality in the final third.
Then, in the 14th minute, Alex Bradley showcased some fine technique, unleashing a curler from the edge of the box that Sam Johnson did well to keep out of the top corner of his goal.
Halifax, who came into the game knowing that victory could take them top of the table, went on to enjoy a spell in the ascendancy and Liam McAlinden forced two good saves out of James Belshaw in the space of a minute, the second from a free-kick 20 yards out.
The remainder of the opening period was however played in home territory, and Town came within inches of taking the lead when Warren Burrell rattled the cross-bar with a well-struck first-time effort.
Ryan Fallowfield then converted George Smith’s low cross from the left at the far post, only for a linesman’s flag to cut short his celebrations.
Undeterred, Town kept coming, ending the half well on top and delivering a series of useful balls into the Halifax penalty area, one of which saw Beck almost get the better of Johnson with a downward header.
The interval certainly came at a bad time for Weaver and his men, checking their momentum.
If the visitors had played the better football in the opening 45, the second saw Halifax looking the more likely.
With 66 minutes on the clock, Belshaw was almost caught out by Michael Duckworth’s swerving long-ranger, but adjusted well to parry the ball behind for a corner.
With Town tiring, their hosts started to find little pockets of space to play in that weren't there earlier on in the night and substitute Cameron King was able to lash a shot narrowly over the top from 25 yards out.
Halifax went close again in the 78th minute as Belshaw attempted to claim a right-wing corner, only for the ball to become dislodged from his grip.
A home player reacted quickest inside the six-yard box and blasted goalwards, though the strike was bravely blocked by a wall of yellow and black.
As the full-time whistle approached, if anyone was going to nick a goal, it seemed as if it would be the Shaymen.
But football is a funny old game, and Fallowfield and George Thomson worked an overlap down the right, the latter pulling back for Beck to poke home from close range after his initial attempt ricocheted back to him.
Jerome Binnom-Williams nodded wide of the upright at the back stick as Halifax attempted a late salvage operation, then, Jack Muldoon pulled a tired shot wide of the post at the other end after being played through by Beck.
The damage had however already been done, victory lifting Harrogate up to 14th in the table.