Harrogate Town 4 Hartlepool United 1: Second-half goal flurry seals Boxing Day success

Harrogate Town scored four second-half goals to sink Hartlepool United and move up to fourth place in the National League standings.

Thursday, 26th December 2019, 5:05 pm
Updated Thursday, 26th December 2019, 5:43 pm
Lloyd Kerry celebrates after putting Harrogate Town 1-0 up against Hartlepool United. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Lloyd Kerry celebrates after putting Harrogate Town 1-0 up against Hartlepool United. Picture: Matt Kirkham

After rather a dull opening period, Simon Weaver's men were rewarded for attacking with greater purpose after the interval, eventually running out comfortable winners on Boxing Day afternoon.

The game began in frantic fashion, Jon Stead beating Pools goalkeeper Ben Killip to the ball and pulling back for Jack Diamond.

His effort was blocked, but when the ball broke back to Stead, the veteran forward whipped a strike towards the top corner, forcing Killip into a very good save.

Play then switched to the other end and Peter Kioso sent a dangerous low centre across the six-yard box that Ryan Donaldson just failed to convert at the back post.

That early flurry of excitement was however to prove a false dawn and the rest of the opening 45 passed without much incident of note, United squeezing the life out of Harrogate, making things congested in midfield and denying their hosts any space to play in.

The nearest either side came to a breakthrough before the interval arrived on 33 minutes when Pools countered down their left and Gime Toure pulled his finish narrowly past the far post.

Town began the second period with a great deal more intent about their play and were rewarded for upping the ante with three goals in the space of 14 minutes.

Stead had already missed a very good headed opportunity when he crossed from the right for Lloyd Kerry, who controlled the ball, swivelled and rammed a 54th minute finish down the middle of the goal.

Alex Bradley then forced Killip to save with his feet, then Jack Emmett was denied on the follow-up before Stead used all his experience to win his side a penalty.

Getting his body between Michael Raynes and the ball, he drew what looked an unnecessary foul from the visiting centre-half and Jack Muldoon smashed the resulting spot-kick into the roof of the net.

Stead was then off-target with a couple more attempts, while Muldoon saw a strike blocked with Killip miles off his line, Emmett then thwarted on the follow up by the recovering Pools custodian.

A third of the afternoon did however arrived on 68 minutes, Diamond doing superbly as he danced past a couple of United defenders on his way to the left byline, from where he set up Josh Falkingham for the simplest of finishes.

Out of nowhere, Pools were handed a 76th-minute lifeline when Will Smith switched off and allowed Toure to race past him and down the left.

His low centre eventually broke for substitute Nicke Kabamba, and he blasted home from close range to narrow the deficit.

With Town suddenly looking all at sea, only an excellent save from James Belshaw prevented Josh Hawkes from making it two for the visitors in as many minutes.

Storm weathered, Weaver's team managed to negotiate the next 15 minutes fairly comfortably before Muldoon put the icing on the cake with a delightful solo effort.

Counter-attacking from deep inside his own half, he showed great strength and pace to make it all the way to the edge of the Pools' box, then lifted an audacious finish over Killip to round things off.