Harrogate Town 1 Carlisle United 0: Josh March's penalty downs high-fliers

Josh March's 28th-minute penalty earned Harrogate Town all three points from Tuesday night's League Two clash with title-chasing Carlisle United.

Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 9:10 pm
Updated Tuesday, 16th February 2021, 10:08 pm
Harrogate Town striker Josh March looks to escape the attentions of two Carlisle United players. Picture: Matt Kirkham

The on-loan forward once again showed a cool head in front of goal to register his fourth strike in yellow and black since his January switch from Forest Green Rovers.

And, ultimately, Town deserved all three points, playing the better football - albeit in patches - and defending their goal superbly to leave their high-flying visitors feeding off scraps despite them loading the box at every opportunity.

The contest began at a ferocious pace with the Cumbrians displaying no obvious signs of rust despite the fact that they hadn't played in a fortnight.

It was the hosts who would eventually settle the quicker, however, and Josh McPake went close to breaking the deadlock when he sent a vicious strike from the edge of the box narrowly wide of the mark.

George Thomson's in-swinging corner then sparked a scramble in the Carlisle six-yard box, before Town broke the deadlock on 28 minutes.

March's pace took him into the penalty area and past United skipper Nick Anderton, who dived in rashly and left referee Seb Stockbridge with no option other than to point to the spot.

March himself did the honours from 12 yards, slotting the ball low to Paul Farman's left as the visiting gloveman dived in the opposite direction.

WIth the Cumbrians' game-plan seemingly revolving around launching a succession of long throw-in's towards James Belshaw's goal, it was Harrogate who continued to play the better football and they could have doubled their advantage 10 minutes before half-time.

A mistake in the away back-line afforded Simon Power a clean run through on goal, though the Irishman's finish was straight at Farman, who also managed to push Aaron Martin's follow-up header over his cross-bar.

Carlisle began the second period with far greater intensity, but despite spending a spell stuck in their own territory it was the home team who went closest to scoring the game's next goal.

McPake did well down the left to pull the ball back from close to the byline and it took an excellent block from a United defender to keep Martin's blast out of the back of the net.

The final 20 minutes saw the visitors ask serious questions of Town defence, however they stood up to the task, repelling everything that was thrown at them.

At the other end, McPake's cute through-ball sent Martin in on goal late on, and although Farman was quickly off his line to save, Harrogate had already done enough.

Harrogate Town: Belshaw; Burrell, Smith, Hall, Francis (Lawlor 76); Power, Thomson, Falkingham, McPake; Martin, March (Beck 73). Unused substitutes: Minter, Lawlor, Kiernan, Kerry, Muldoon.

Carlisle United: Farman; Tanner, Hayden, Bennett, Anderton (Patrick 75); Riley (Mellish 75), Guy, Dickenson; Kayode, Alessandra (Zanzala 57), Walker (Toure 64). Unused substitutes: Norman, McDonald, Armer.

Referee: S Stockbridge (Tyne & Wear).