Forest Green Rovers 0 Harrogate Town 2: Sulphurites continue surge up the table
The Sulphurites produced a thoroughly professional performance against opposition who finished the afternoon bottom of the pile, with second-half goals from Jack Muldoon and Abraham Odoh sufficient to seal the most comfortable of victories.
That win was Simon Weaver’s team’s fifth in seven league matches and means they remain unbeaten this calendar year and sit just two points shy of seventh place.
The first half of the contest was far from dull, but there was little by way of goal-mouth action to get supporters off their seats.
Daly and Odoh saw tame efforts saved, while the latter also volleyed narrowly wide, with Forest Green Rovers goalkeeper Tommy Simkin perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow card after wiping out George Thomson right on the edge of the home box.
At the other end of the field, Town looked assured and in control for the most part, their defence expertly marshalled once again by centre-half Anthony O’Connor and gloveman James Belshaw, playing his first game since rejoining the Sulphurites on a permanent deal.
The second period was barely two minutes old when disaster struck for the hosts, Alex Rodriguez receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Odoh, leaving his team a player light.
And, just three minutes after the Rovers midfielder trudged off, Town broke the deadlock.
Matty Foulds took a right-wing corner short to Odoh, who skinned Charlie McCann as he drove into the box and towards the byline, before sliding a pass across the face of goal for Muldoon to turn in from a couple of yards out.
Harrogate appeared very much on top at this stage, and were able to knock the ball around with ease, but out of nowhere the hosts almost forced an equaliser.
Some unconvincing defensive work down the visitors’ left afforded Matty Stevens the opportunity to turn sharply inside the penalty area and unleash a strike which Belshaw did brilliantly to claw away.
Weaver’s men were soon back to dominating possession, however, and after Thomson’s unconvincing shot was easily gathered by Simkin, the away lead was doubled in the 69th minute.
Jamie Robson carelessly passed the ball straight to Daly deep inside his own half, and the ex-Everton man drove at the heart of Rovers’ back-line before slipping a pass left for Odoh to stroke a low finish beyond Simkin and inside the far post.
Town continued to threaten, Thomson seeing a right-wing cross deflected just the wrong side of the near post by Dominic Bernard before Foulds bent an effort just over the top from a similar position.
And with a number of other promising attacking opportunities engineered during the closing stages, a third goal looked very much on the cards.
But, both Odoh and substitute Josh March were denied by excellent blocks from Forest Green defenders, and the final whistle sounded with the score-line still at 2-0.