Harrogate Town 3 Rochdale AFC 2: Warren Burrell's late strike seals opening-day success

Warren Burrell netted a stoppage-time winner to fire Harrogate Town to victory over Rochdale on the opening day of the 2021/22 season.

By Rhys Howell
Saturday, 7th August 2021, 5:09 pm
Updated Saturday, 7th August 2021, 9:08 pm
Harrogate Town defender Warren Burrell celebrates his late winner against Rochdale. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town defender Warren Burrell celebrates his late winner against Rochdale. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Simon Weaver's men started Saturday's League Two curtain-raiser superbly, racing into a two-goal lead, only to find themselves pegged back by the 49th-minute.

But the Sulphurites were not to be denied and eventually wrapped up the three points during the early seconds of time added on.

The game was just five minutes old when Town forward Jack Muldoon used his body cleverly to create himself a bit of space down the right before advancing towards the Dale box.

He then delivered an inch-perfect cross to the near post where strike partner Luke Armstrong took a touch and stabbed the ball past Jay Lynch.

The hosts were in dreamland five minutes later, Pattison bringing the ball under his spell on the left edge of the away penalty area before bending a cultured effort around the despairing dive of Lynch and just inside the far upright.

It was however all to easy for the visitors to get themselves back in the contest after a quarter of an hour, Stephen Dooley rolling the ball into the path of Alex Newby, whose cute finish across Mark Oxley trickled over the line.

Rochdale could easily have been level moments later, though Jake Beesley’s header cleared the cross-bar from Abraham Odoh’s inviting left-wing centre.

The end-to-end nature of the contest continued, with Harrogate speedster Simon Power lighting up proceedings down the left wing on 18 minutes.

Having shown serious pace in hurdling two challenges, he then cut inside a third defender before curling a shot narrowly over the top.

The majority of the remainder of the opening period belonged to Dale and only an excellent instinct save from Oxley prevented Beesley from levelling matters with a low 24th-minute strike on the turn.

From a rare foray forward, Town almost had a third shortly before the interval when Muldoon just failed to apply a finishing touch to George Thomson’s deflected right-wing cross inside the six-yard box.

The second 45 began in start contrast to the first, Dale flying out of the blocks to level matters on 49 minutes though Connor Grant's clinical finish from a cut-back from the right.

That goal seemed certain to shift the momentum very much in the visitors' favour, though the Harrogate response was positive.

Muldoon cut inside off the left flank and stung the palms of Lynch, Armstong's clever lay-off teed up Pattison for a strike that looked to be heading in until it was blocked, while Armstrong himself saw a decent effort deflected wide for a corner.

It was however Dale who had the better chances of the closing stages, George Broadbent taking a heavy touch and allowing Oxley to gather after Beesley's flick-on sent him clean through on goal.

A slip in the home box then led to a sight of goal for Newby, who was denied by a Lewis Page block, before Oxley spread himself superbly to keep out Dooley's follow-up.

A fifth goal of the afternoon did eventually materialise in the first minute of stoppage-time but it arrived at the opposite end of the pitch.

Thomson's corner from the right was met at the back stick by the towering Connor Hall, kept alive following a scramble by Lloyd Kerry, then swept home from eight yards out by Burrell.