A stunning George Eustance strike from close to the halfway line saw Harrogate Railway to a narrow victory at Willington in the second qualifying round of the FA Vase.
The lively winger produced a moment of magic to register the only goal of the game in the closing stages, sealing his side’s progress into the first round proper at the expense of the Northern League Division Two outfit.
There was little incident of any note during a closely-contested opening 45 minutes, although Railway’s young goalkeepr James Webster was forced into making a fine save from an Evvan Graham shot six minutes before the interval.
Liam Gray’s men struck the crossbar three minutes into the second period, while the other end a Graham header was kept out by Webster, however it was the visitors who looked the more likely to break the deadlock heading into the closing stages.
Luke Stewart came off the substitutes’ bench following his return from an injury lay-off and caused the Willington defence a few problems, but it was to be Eustance who would win the day for the Railwaymen in the 82nd minute.
Spotting home custodian Lewis Graham off his line, the former Thackley midfielder took aim from just inside the hosts’ half and sent a wonder strike into the back of the net.
Railway have been conceding an alarming amount of goals of late, but on this occasion a defence well-marshalled by centre-halves Shane Hamilton and Ryan Basi managed to shut out their opponents, registering a first clean-sheet of the season at the 14th attempt in the process.
Next up for the Starbeck club is a home meeting with Handsworth Parramore on Saturday where they will be seeking to avoid a fourth straight defeat at Station View in a bid to escape the NCEL Premier Division relegation zone.