Harrogate Town 0 Sutton United 2: No fairytale finale for Lloyd Kerry

There was to be no fairytale finale for Lloyd Kerry as Harrogate Town signed off for 2021/22 with a 2-0 home loss to Sutton United.

By Rhys Howell
Saturday, 7th May 2022, 5:29 pm
Updated Sunday, 8th May 2022, 8:17 am
Lloyd Kerry leaves the pitch for the final time as a Harrogate Town player. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The veteran midfielder produced a man-of-the-match display on his final appearance before retirement, though goals in each half from Craig Eastmond and Isaac Olaofe ensured that his eight-year stint playing for the Sulphurites ended in defeat.

It was all too easy for the U's to break the deadlock just eight minutes into Saturday's League Two clash, with the home defence caught napping not once, but twice.

Olaofe was afforded time and space to pull the ball back from close to the left-hand byline for Omar Bugiel, who fired a deflected strike against the underside of the cross-bar. And it was Eastmond who reacted quicker than anyone in yellow and black, nodding into the unguarded net.

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Jack Diamond squandered Harrogate Town's best chance to get on the score-sheet during Saturday's 2-0 home defeat to Sutton United.

Town came within a whisker of restoring parity on 16 minutes when their first decent spell of pressure led to them forcing a right-wing corner, which Rory McArdle rose magnificently to meet, heading George Thomson's delivery against the inside of the near post.

Yet, although they continued to cause Sutton some problems when they kept the ball on the deck, the Sulphurites could easily have found themselves three down by the interval.

First, the unmarked Joe Kizzi got around the back to meet a long diagonal from the left and tested the reactions of Joe Cracknell.

The visiting right-back then powered a close-range header from a corner into the turf and wide of the mark when he ought to have done far better, before an incisive counter-attack ended with Eastmond's clever dink from the right being glanced against the far post by Olaofe.

The opening period ended with a sliding Kerry diverting Alex Pattison's pass into the penalty area well over the cross-bar, though the second began with the U's immediately threatening to add to their tally once more.

Enzio Boldewijn cut inside on to his right foot just outside the home box and forced Cracknell into a good save low down to his right, before Pattison took aim at the opposite end, drawing an even better diving stop from Dean Bouzanis.

Pattison saw another left-footed shot kept out by the United custodian, then Jack Diamond glanced a header over from Thomson's right-wing centre.

Kerry was substituted for the final time to a standing ovation on 65 minutes, just seconds before Town's golden chance to level matters came and went.

On-loan Sunderland winger Diamond was played clean through and looked in full control of the situation as he danced around Bouzanis, but rolled his finish against the base of the post with the goal gaping.

Sutton went and got themselves straight back on the offensive, Olaofe failing to beat Cracknell one-on-one, then fluffing his lines inside the box when it looked far easier to score.

Seconds later, Bugiel's audacious outside-of-the-foot lob then cleared the scrambling Cracknell, only to bounce back off the woodwork.

The end-to-end nature of the contest continued, Muldoon getting in behind the visiting back-line and seeing two strikes in quick succession expertly blocked by Bouzanis.

Luke Armstrong was next to go close as Harrogate turned the screw, clearing the bar before substitute Calum Kavanagh saw a long-range curler take a nick off a defender on its way over the top.

But, from the resulting corner, the U's countered and Olaofe's low, deflected effort from distance wrong-footed Joe Cracknell on its way into the back of the home net.

Olaofe was presented with another chance late on, though his goal-bound effort was deflected against the cross-bar by the covering Warren Burrell, Cracknell doing well to parry Bugiel's over-head kick on the follow up.

Defeat sees the Sulphurites drop two places and finish their second season in the Football League in 19th position.