Harrogate Town 2 Sutton United 2: Sulphurites' play-off hopes hanging by a thread

Harrogate Town’s League Two play-off hopes were left hanging by a thread after they conceded an 87th-minute equaliser against Sutton United.
Harrogate Town and Sutton United played out a 2-2 draw at Wetherby Road on Saturday afternoon. Pictures: Matt KirkhamHarrogate Town and Sutton United played out a 2-2 draw at Wetherby Road on Saturday afternoon. Pictures: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town and Sutton United played out a 2-2 draw at Wetherby Road on Saturday afternoon. Pictures: Matt Kirkham

The Sulphurites had overturned a half-time deficit at Wetherby Road courtesy of goals by George Thomson and Jack Muldoon, and would have moved to within a point of seventh-placed Crawley had they managed to hold on to that 2-1 advantage.

But, Deon Moore was able to slot through the legs of James Belshaw having raced onto Olly Sanderson’s sublime pass in behind the home defence and put a serious dent in Town’s top-seven aspirations.

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Saturday’s draw leaves them 12th in the table and three points behind Crawley – who have played a game less – with just two fixtures remaining.

George Thomson celebrates after netting Harrogate Town's 49th-minute eqauliser.George Thomson celebrates after netting Harrogate Town's 49th-minute eqauliser.
George Thomson celebrates after netting Harrogate Town's 49th-minute eqauliser.

And although the odds are stacked firmly against them, Simon Weaver insisted that neither he nor his troops are giving up on their play-off “dream.”

The Harrogate chief said: "I know for a fact that all of the staff and players are right up for it, and are happy that we have still got something to play for.

"With two games left, we’ve got a chance. We have blasted through our EFL points record and are all set to finish in our highest league position, so I am proud as punch.

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"We're going all out to finish in our highest position and we can't control everything that the teams around us do, but results went in our favour for the most part on Saturday and we've narrowed the gap down.

Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver.Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver.
Sulphurites boss Simon Weaver.

"The last two games, three points to play for and I’ve just said to the players that magic could be around the corner, but we have to believe it, and we have to take responsibility every time we take to the field.”

Harry Beautyman handed Sutton the lead in first-half stoppage-time with a clever close-range finish from former Harrogate loanee Josh Coley’s low, right-wing cross.

Town’s response was however fairly swift, and they levelled matters just three minutes into the second half when midfielder George Thomson took his tally for the season to 16 with a precise strike into the bottom corner after Matty Foulds pulled the ball back from the left.

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With Harrogate looking much the better side, they got their noses in front on 80 minutes. Thomson took a free-kick quickly, sending Sam Folarin scampering down the left flank, from where he was able to find fellow substitute Muldoon, who swept a clinical first-time effort inside the far post.

The hosts looked fairly comfortable at 2-1 up, though Sutton were able to restore parity out of nowhere through Moore, with both sides passing up chances to win the game at the death as Muldoon was denied by Steve Arnold before United’s Harry Smith blazed over at the other end.

And although the contest could have swung either way during the closing stages, Weaver believes that his team did enough to have warranted all three points.

"I thought it was a really pleasing performance against the elements in the first half,” he added. “We defended with such resilience again, up until the cusp of half-time when we conceded.

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"It was a bit frustrating but we said ‘forget that’ at half-time, it's about trying our best to win the game and I thought that the performance in the second half was right up there.

"It's not easy against a big, strong team that has got everything to play for because they’re scrapping to beat the drop. They've got big lads, they're throwing balls into the box again, like in midweek against Grimsby.

"But, I thought that we deserved the win because we were creative second half and we played some really incisive football, which is not easy with that wind again.

"But I thought every action was a positive one from the players and it gave us an opportunity to keep going.”

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And as disappointed as he was to see his side concede such a costly late goal, Weaver said that he had to take his hat off to Sutton midfielder Sanderson for the quality of his assist.

"What a ball it was from their lad,” he continued. “It was right on a sixpence, against the wind.

"And fair play to him, it was a moment of quality that got them back into the game and sometimes you have got to give credit to the opposition."