Harrogate Town 1 Crawley Town 1: Jack Muldoon's late goal provides Simon Weaver with a tonic

Stuck at home in self-isolation, Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver must have been feeling even worse than he did before kick-off at the halfway stage of Saturday's clash with Crawley.

Saturday, 14th November 2020, 5:53 pm
Updated Monday, 16th November 2020, 7:38 am
Jack Muldoon's seventh goal of the season earned Harrogate Town a point at home to Crawley. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites' boss, who wasn't in attendance at the EnviroVent Stadium as he adheres to Covid-19 precautions, will have known that the visitors could almost have been out of sight by the interval.

Having witnessed his players concede the kind of goal that will have left him tearing his hair out via live stream, he had to watch on helpless as panic seemed to set in among the home ranks.

The second half began with Crawley continuing to create chances at will, but eventually - aided by the arrival of Aaron Martin in the centre-forward position - Town eventually began to have a go at the Red Devils.

Harrogate skipper Josh Falkingham is challenged by Crawley's Jack Powell.

And, by the time Jack Muldoon delivered the perfect tonic in the form of his seventh goal of the season to level matters, Weaver's men were well on top and, in the end, looked like the only team who wanted to go on and win the match.

It was quite the second-half turnaround, and one that will no doubt have filled both Harrogate's manager and his charges with plenty of encouragement following a run of just one point from the last 12 on offer.

With assistant boss Paul Thirlwell in charge in his absence, Weaver opted to make six changes from Tuesday's EFL Trophy defeat to Hull City, the most noticeable of which saw Jake Lawlor handed a league debut at centre-half in place of the injured Will Smith, while Brendan Kiernan was paired up front with top-scorer Muldoon.

And, they began proceedings brightly, though were indebted to goalkeeper James Belshaw for an important one-on-one save to deny Max Watters inside the opening five minutes after Crawley were able to get in behind all too easily.

Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver was not in attendance at the EnviroVent Stadium.

Less than 60 seconds later, Josh Falkingham drilled an effort narrowly wide at the other end of the field, then Kiernan saw a strike on the turn which looked destined for the back of the net deflected behind for a corner.

Town came closer still to breaking the deadlock when Falkingham delivered a low ball into the six-yard box and the stretching Muldoon was denied by a decent bit of goalkeeping by veteran custodian Stuart Nelson.

The hosts will have felt that they were just about shading proceedings by the midway point of the half, but then fell behind on 27 minutes following a defensive horror show.

Tom Walker twice gifted the ball to Crawley players inside his own half and, although it seemed as if the initial danger had passed, when two home defenders left the ball to one another in the penalty area, Tom Nichols was able to cut back from the byline for Watters to stab home.

The goal seemed to rattle Harrogate, and Belshaw was required to make another one-on-one stop by Nichols, while Ryan Fallowfield was in the right place at the right time to hack a Watters strike off the goal-line.

Belshaw was at it again just moments into the second period, diving low to his left to push away Jack Powell's swerving long-ranger then reacting superbly to get up in time to thwart Watters on the follow-up.

It was after this point that the tide began to turn, 39-year-old Nelson almost letting Lloyd Kerry's shot from distance squirm beyond him and into his net.

From the resulting corner, Lawlor's downwards header was cleared off the line, then George Thomson's stinging drive was blocked.

Connor Hall then rose well at another set-piece, only to nod straight down the throat of Nelson, before the Harrogate centre-half planted a header from substitute Dan Jones' long throw-in narrowly the wrong side of the upright.

And, it was from a trademark Jones throw that Town would eventually get their reward, Martin meeting a mammoth 85th-minute delivery from the right and heading into the path of Muldoon, who could hardly miss from just a couple of yards out.

The hosts kept coming in the closing stages with Crawley hanging on and seemingly happy to time waste. Scenting blood, Harrogate almost nicked maximum points in stoppage-time, Jones whipping in a deep left-wing centre that beat everyone and thudded back off the far post.

Harrogate: Belshaw; Fallowfield, Lawlor, Hall, Burrell (Jones 76); Thomson, Falkingham, Kerry (Kirby 76), Walker (Martin 46); Muldoon, Kiernan. Unused substitutes: Cracknell, Beck, Stead.

Crawley: Nelson; Davies, McNerny, Craig, Doherty; Allarakhia (Dallison 78), Nichols, Powell, Hessenthaler; Watters (Frost 58), Nadesan. Unused substitutes: Morris, Adebowale, Sesay, Ashford, Galach.

Referee: M Coy (Durham).