Harrogate Town 2 Ebbsfleet United 0: Brendan Kiernan finds his ruthless edge in front of TV cameras

Brendan Kiernan on his way to opening the scoring during Harrogate Town's home win over Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Brendan Kiernan on his way to opening the scoring during Harrogate Town's home win over Ebbsfleet United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Brendan Kiernan has been an undoubted success story since his arrival at Harrogate Town from Welling United in the summer.

Fellow new recruits Will Smith and Connor Hall have improved with each game and have been flourishing at the heart of the back-four in recent weeks, but livewire winger Kiernan hit the ground running.

He was the star performer during the early weeks of the campaign, a shining beacon of hope of better things to come amidst the gloom of indifferent form out on the pitch, fan unrest and falling attendances in the wake of a ticket-price increase.

Kiernan came to Wetherby Road with a fine pedigree, having played in the academies at Crystal Palace and Fulham before making his senior debut with AFC Wimbledon.

He'd shone in the division below with Welling last term, almost driving them to promotion from National League South with no fewer than 15 goals and 12 assists.

The early signs were extremely encouraging. Here was a player who was literally getting fans off their seats with his exciting, throw-back style of wing-play.

His pace, footwork, trickery and incredible close control have made him a joy to watch and an absolute nightmare for opposing full-backs to deal with.

Prior to this weekend he'd scored two goals of his own and set up three in the space of 14 appearances, statistics that perhaps didn't quite do him justice.

However, if there is to be a criticism of Kiernan, it would probably be that his end product could be better.

A number of moments spring to mind. The one-on-one opportunities against Notts County and Maidenhead United, the penalty over the bar on the opening-day of the season, a close-range miss at home to Boreham Wood.

But, if ever there was a stage to showcase a more ruthless edge to his game, then Saturday's televised tea-time clash with Ebbsfleet United was it.

With the BT Sport cameras beaming the action live into homes across the country, Kiernan came up with the goods in front of goal, netting one in each half to secure a 2-0 success.

His first goal, five minutes before half-time, saw him latch onto Alex Bradley's through-ball, run around the United keeper and then slot in from a narrow angle.

His second was more of a predatory finish, the winger coming inside off the left flank to meet Ryan Fallowfield's deflected cross from the right with his head and nod home.

And with that, you could say that Kiernan now looks to have it all. The energy, willing, drive, trickery and creativity, now backed up with a tangible end product.

If he can continue to apply that kind of ruthless finishing touch inside the penalty area as well as stretching opposition defences and creating opportunities for others down the flanks, then Town's progress up the National League table is more-than-likely to continue.

"It was a fantastic performance," Town boss Simon Weaver said of Kiernan's display against Ebbsfleet.

"I'm delighted for him, he really does deserve that [the two goals], he definitely earned the ovation from the supporters when he came off. His energy output was immense.

"It was a really good, slick move that released him [for the first goal]. He got there and the touch did take him into quite a tight angle and I was thinking 'is that the chance gone?', but he put it in really without much thought process.

"So many times over so many years I've been saying 'will a wideman get across the far post or inside the far post when the ball is swung in?' and we haven't been anywhere to be seen, but Brendan's there [for the second goal].

"He's had another couple of chances like that throughout the season so far, but it was an instinctive finish off his head. It was great.

"He had another chance after that and it would have great for him to get the match-ball but he's very much a team player and he'll be delighted with the three points."

Saturday's victory was Town's third on the bounce and lifts them up to 10th in the National League standings, just two points outside the play-off positions.