Harrogate Town 3 Carlisle United 0: Sulphurites romp to first win in five

Harrogate Town ended a run of four consecutive League Two defeats when they romped past a lacklustre Carlisle United outfit at Wetherby Road.

By Rhys Howell
Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 5:45 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd April 2022, 6:12 pm
Rory McArdle, right, is congratulated by his Harrogate Town team-mates after heading his side into a 2-0 lead against Carlisle United. Picture: Matthew Appleby
Rory McArdle, right, is congratulated by his Harrogate Town team-mates after heading his side into a 2-0 lead against Carlisle United. Picture: Matthew Appleby

The injury-ravaged Sulphurites lined up with nine senior players missing but were far too good for their visitors and could easily have won the game by a much more significant margin.

Jack Diamond and Rory McArdle netted twice in quick succession in the first half to put Simon Weaver's team in control then, after a string of chances to end the game as a contest were passed up, the former netted his second in stoppage-time to round things off.

Town began fairly brightly, though they were indebted to veteran centre-half McArdle, who produced a perfectly-timed, last-ditch sliding challenge to dispossess Jordan Gibson and deny the Carlisle attacker a clean run on the home goal.

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Their progress hindered somewhat by a lack of conviction in the final third and a number of unforced errors in possession, the Sulphurites saw plenty of the ball during the opening quarter of an hour without ever really looking like scoring.

But they would go on to break the deadlock on 18 minutes when George Thomson clipped a right-wing cross to the near post and Diamond beat Mark Howard to the ball, lifting a header over the advancing Carlisle custodian.

Things got even better for Town in the 27th minute, McArdle registering his first goal for the club as he glanced Thomson's excellent right-wing free-kick across Howard and inside the far post.

And Weaver's side could have been out of sight before the interval after Jack Muldoon helped a ball forward on for Alex Pattison to run clean through, only to be denied by Howard's instinctive save with his foot.

The second period began with Luke Armstrong drawing a decent stop out of Howard, then Joe Cracknell did well to keep out Brennan Dickenson's blast from a tight angle at the other end.

Harrogate' goalkeeper then pulled off an even better save just before the hour-mark, pushing away Lewis Alessandra's header at point-blank range.

Town almost added a third in the 62nd minute when Jack Muldoon's well-struck, first-time effort left Howard grasping at thin air as it thudded against the underside of the cross-bar and bounced on the goal-line.

Alessandra then got his finish horribly wrong when the ball looped over the home back-line and presented him with a glorious opportunity to half the deficit.

With the game opening up, Town began to look a real threat on the counter-attack, Pattison and Diamond both failing to even hit the target with just Howard to beat.

Muldoon then forced Carlisle's gloveman to parry a goal-bound strike, before Cracknell flung himself high to his right to claw away a Gibson shot which appeared destined for the top corner.

With United having thrown caution to the wind, Power became the latest home attacker to clear the cross-bar when played in on goal, failing to capitalise on Pattison's unselfish pass.

Another Pattison through-ball was however converted a minute into stoppage-time, Diamond racing into the box and finishing confidently beyond Howard and into the bottom corner with his left foot.

Saturday's victory lifts Harrogate above Carlisle in the League Two table and up one place to 19th position.