Harrogate Town 3 Doncaster Rovers 1: Sulphurites too good for Yorkshire rivals
The Sulphurites ran out 3-1 winners at Wetherby Road thanks to James Daly’s maiden goal for the club and a stunning Abraham Odoh strike.
Saturday lunchtime’s derby clash was very much in the balance at the interval, but after the visitors spurned a couple of clear chances to take the lead early in the second period, Simon Weaver’s men pounced to record a fourth victory in six League Two outings.
The game sprung into life following an uneventful opening quarter-of-an-hour, with two goals arriving in the space of as many minutes.
It was the home side who drew first blood, Sam Folarin accepting Odoh’s cut-back from the left before side-footing a composed strike into the bottom corner of Louis Jones’ net.
But Rovers levelled matters almost immediately through skipper Tommy Rowe, who drilled in a 20-yarder after Folarin failed to clear his lines following a Doncaster corner.
Boosted by their equaliser, the visitors went on to enjoy a decent spell of possession, asking a few questions of the Harrogate defence without really threatening another breakthrough.
Yet, despite being the ascendancy, Grant McCann’s team really ought to have found themselves behind once again in the 33rd minute.
Jack Muldoon did brilliantly to get the better of Jack Senior down the Town right before slipping a pass inside to Odoh, who raced in on goal and slid the ball past Jones, but directed his finish the wrong side of the far post.
Moments later, Mo Faal flashed an instinctive effort wide of the mark at the other end as the opening period drew to a close with both sides lacking any real conviction in their play.
Harrogate have previous this term for coming out of the blocks slowly after half-time, and this proved to be the case once again, with Rovers presented with a glorious opportunity to get their noses in front barely a minute after the resumption.
It was all too easy for Rowe to pick out Luke Molyneux with a cross from the left, but despite being unmarked at the back post, Doncaster’s number seven could only volley over the cross-bar.
Eight minutes later, it was Town’s turn to pass up a huge change to register the third goal of the afternoon.
Matty Foulds delivered a right-wing corner to the near post, with the ball breaking inside the six-yard box and bouncing up invitingly for both George Thomson and half-time substitute Daly, though neither man was able to find a finishing touch.
Moments later, Molyneux went close again at the other end, working a sight of goal for himself on the right-hand side of the Sulphurites’ box and dragging a low shot wide of the target.
Another opportunity came and went just after the hour-mark, Rovers striker Faal clearing the bar with a close-range header when he really ought to have done much better following a good run and cross down the right by the lively Molyneux.
That miss was made to look even worse in the 66th minute as the hosts retook the lead courtesy of a tidy bit of interplay down their right flank.
Full-back Kayne Ramsay drove infield before slipping the ball wide to Thomson, who eased it back into his team-mate’s path with a perfectly-weighted pass. Without hesitating, the former Southampton defender sent a dangerous pass across the face of goal and Daly stretched to turn home.
Then, with 75 minutes on the clock, the Sulphurites pulled clear thanks to a superb solo effort by the mercurial Odoh.
Driving forward at pace from close to halfway following a turnover in midfield, the ex-Rochdale man skipped inside Joseph Olowu then squared up Ben Close before rifling a fine finish towards the top corner that Rovers custodian Jones got a hand to, but couldn’t keep out.
The closing stages saw Harrogate knock the ball about with confidence as they went in search of a fourth goal, and although one was not forthcoming, they had already done more than enough.