Harrogate Town 0 Dover Athletic 2: Flat performance ends in disappointing defeat

Harrogate Town slumped to a 2-0 home defeat to Dover Athletic at the CNG Stadium, failing to ever get out of second gear on a disappointing afternoon.

Saturday, 31st August 2019, 5:00 pm
Jack Muldoon shoots at goal during Harrogate Town's home defeat to Dover Athletic. Picture: Matt Kirkham

All the good work of the previous two matches was undone as Simon Weaver's men turned in an underwhelming performance, slipping down to 17th place in the National League standings.

The first half of Saturday's contest was a largely uneventful affair, Town beginning well enough and enjoying plenty of the ball before the visitors eventually got going and began to ask a few questions of the home defence.

The closest either side came to a goal was a vicious 20th-minute drive by Jack Muldoon, who picked up Mark Beck's flick and spun sharply on the edge of the box, forcing Dover goalkeeper Lee Worgan to tip over his cross-bar.

The second period was somewhat more eventful, but far less enjoyable as far as Harrogate were concerned.

It almost began disastrously for the hosts, the ball breaking inside their penalty area for Innih Effiong, who beat James Belshaw with a low strike across the face of goal but saw it clip the outside of the far post.

With the worryingly low crowd of just 900 inside the CNG Stadium rather flat, Town struggled to generate anything by way of forward momentum during the quarter of an hour that followed the re-start.

It took until the 67th minute for them to really threaten, Scott Brown getting on the end of Brendan Kiernan's low centre from the right and dummying his way past two defenders before forcing Worgan into a good block at his near post.

Two minutes later, they did however find themselves behind.

And it was all too easy for Effiong, scorer of three goals against Town last season, as he headed ex-Harrogate midfielder Michael Woods' cross from the right past Belshaw.

Weaver brought on Joe Leesley, Jon Stead and Sam Jones in attempt to liven things up, but the hosts barely created a single clear opening despite needing a goal to get back into the game.

And a miserable afternoon got worse in the 89th minute when Effiong was again afforded too much space inside the box and bent an effort past the exposed Belshaw.