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Railwaymen suffer cruel late defeat to Yorkshire Amateur

Harrogate Railway manager Craig Ogilvie. Picture: Adrian Murray
Harrogate Railway manager Craig Ogilvie. Picture: Adrian Murray

Harrogate Railway's hopes of climbing off the foot of the NCEL Premier Division table were dealt the cruellest of blows on Saturday afternoon.

With their game with promotion hopefuls Yorkshire Amateur well into its 95th minute, Craig Ogilvie's side looked to have done enough to earn themselves a battling point on home soil.

The referee had indicated that three minutes of additional time would be played, yet as visiting midfielder Fernando Moke picked up the ball inside the home half, the man in black allowed the match to continue.

Tired legs meant that Moke was able to run at Railway's rearguard unopposed, advancing to the edge of the edge of the box where he carefully slotted a low effort past the excellent Jacob Collier and into the bottom corner, sealing a 2-1 victory.

There was barely enough time for the game to re-start before the final whistle blew, sparking angry scenes in and around the home dugout.

"I'm disappointed. I'm not quite sure where all that time came from," boss Ogilvie reflected.

"He [the referee] told me that there were three minutes, and they've scored after 94 and a half.

"The lads have done well and we should have had a well-deserved point."

On the balance of play, the Ammers will feel that they warranted all three points, and while they created the better chances and could certainly have been ahead prior to the fifth-minute of stoppage-time, things would likely have ended very differently had Rail striker Fraser Lancaster not fired over the top of a gaping net with the game still in the balance.

"It was an open goal wasn't it, and that's the story of our season so far, but Fraz will come back and score goals for us. It's just one of those things, it happens," Ogilvie added.

"First half, we weren't really at the races but in the second we created some chances, we just need to start sticking them in the back of the net.

"Jacob [Collier] has pulled off some good saves, but Ammers are a good team and they're always going to get in.

"The lads have defended well and restricted them to long shots for the most part, so I can't fault any of them. We should have taken something from the game."

Though performances have undoubtedly been improving game-by-game since Ogilvie took charge of the club in early September, Railway still have just one win and a draw to their name from their opening 10 league fixtures.

With these statistics in mind, the Starbeck outfit's ambitious young manager says that his players need to start putting points on the board sooner, rather than later.

"Ultimately, we are still bottom and as much as we are progressing, we need to start turning performances into points," Ogilvie said.

"We've come up against a lot of the big teams in this division in the last few weeks and now we've got a run of games where I'm hoping to pick up some points.

"No disrespect to the teams we're going to be playing, but I'd like to think that if we keep putting in performances like we have been then we'll start climbing the league."

It was the Ammers who began Saturday's contest the brighter of the sides, knocking the ball around with ease and creating plenty of early chances.

They took a 10th-minute lead when a right-wing cross was delivered for an unmarked Ashley Flynn to take a touch and slot home from close range.

Lively left-winger Jason St Juste twice went close for the visitors before Matt Dempsey's long-range free-kick saw Collier produce a fine save at full-stretch, tipping the ball onto his cross-bar and over the top.

Having ridden their luck somewhat during the opening stages, Railway rallied and pulled level shortly after the half-hour.

A lovely passing move out of defence saw Lewis Riley and JP Vass link nicely down the left and the ball was then shifted inside for Steve Smith to send a low 20-yarder past the outstretched hand of Surawa Bojang.

Smith almost put the hosts in front moments later, but this time his strike from just inside the box flew inches the wrong side of Bojang's upright.

At the other end, Dempsey tested Collier with another well-struck free-kick, before referee Luke Watson limped from the field with what looked a calf problem, leading to one of his assistants taking over in the middle.

The match officials were in the thick of it at the start of the second period, waving away Ammers shouts for a penalty as Flynn went down in the box less than 30 seconds after the resumption.

Then, Vass cut in off the Railway left and fired goalwards where Bojang fumbled his strike, the ball appearing to roll over the line before he recovered to pounce on it, however the stand-in referee turned his back.

As the high-flying visitors looked to force the issue, Dempsey delivered into the box and Flynn cushioned a neat header into the path of Brice Tiani, but he made a mess of the finish despite having time and space just a few yards out.

Railway's big chance then came and went with a quarter of an hour remaining, substitute Sean Hunter getting in down the left and crossing for Lancaster who fired over an open goal from inside the six-yard box.

The closing stages saw the Ammers begin to turn the screw, St Juste turning sharply and running away from two home players before drilling a shot just wide of the mark.

Collier produced two fine saves from Flynn, the usually deadly hitman also striking the bar as he followed up his second effort.

With the play stretched, Ogilvie's men did threaten a couple of times on the counter-attack themselves, however the contest's decisive moment was to arrive at the other end of the field.

Time appeared to be well and truly up when the visitors launched one last raid and Moke showed a touch of class to break home hearts.