Harrogate Town 6-0 Solihull Moors: Goal crazy Town humiliate National League North leaders
Debutant Warren Burrell scored twice as Harrogate Town hammered league leaders Solihull Moors 6-0 in a scintillating afternoon at the CNG Stadium.
Burrell slotted home the only goal of the first half as Town dominated the first half against a side previously unbeaten on their travels.
But the real fireworks were saved for the second period as Lloyd Kerry curled home before Burrell's second and powerhouse Paul Clayton knocked the stuffing out of Solihull.
Town captain Danny Ellis then headed home a fifth before Joe Colbeck blasted home a fine sixth to wrap up a sublime team performance.
Solihull had stretched out a four-point gap at the top prior to their visit to Harrogate, with Town a further six points behind in sixth spot.
The Midlanders will have had fond memories of the CNG Stadium, too after providing a dark day for Town 12 months ago when Omar Bogle inspired a 4-0 thrashing.
Simon Weaver chose bulk in his bid to avoid a repeat of that show and opted for a five-man midfield, which included a first start for Burrell sinch rejoining the club earlier this month.
Paul Thirlwell also recovered from a calf injury to join him in midfield while Dave McGurk shook off a back problem to start at centre-half alongside captain Danny Ellis, with new signing Nat Brown, signed on loan from Lincoln City last week, waiting in the wings.
Jack Emmett was dropped to the bench with Joe Colbeck preferred and Harrogate teenager Rob Worrall found himself on the bench for the first time this season.
Within 45 seconds, the league leaders showed off the attacking threat that has brought 49 goals already this campaign. Andy Brown chested the ball neatly down on the edge of Town’s box and his left-footed shot brought a fine diving save out of Peter Crook.
Darryl Knight also let fly from distance but the early efforts were as good as Solihull gave for the following 80 minutes.
Town took complete control of possession and would have taken the lead had it not been for the reflexes of Solihull stopper Danny Lewis.
Colbeck race in behind on the right and whipped over an excellent ball across the six-yard box to find Brendon Daniels, whose shot was blocked from point-blank range by Lewis.
A minute later, Daniels’ 30-yard strike from the left looked like heading harmlessly wide but it swerved back to cause the goalkeeper a moment of panic before missing the far post.
Daniels was proving a menace and he next rounded Lewis only for Kerry to blast his pull-back over the bar.
Up against a towering centre-back partnership, the rumbustious Clayton was dominating his duel. He saw a header stopped by Lewis from close range before cushioning Colbeck’s cross past the keeper, only to be denied by the offside flag.
Clayton’s physicality rattled the visitors but it also landed him in trouble after a coming together with Lewis off the ball and both were yellow carded by referee Anthony Backhouse.
With Clayton prevalent, Town continued to enjoy the best spells of possession and mixed physicality with skill and flair. Their reward finallyarrived seven minutes before the break.
Daniels was afforded space on the edge of the area and his low left-footed strike was tipped onto the post by Lewis. Clayton picked up the loose change and found debutant in a central area to shoot low into the bottom corner from 20 yards.
Solihull became intent on breaking the game up and their captain Theo Street looked to put Clayton in more trouble with the referee over an innocuous challenge, but thankfully for Town fans the referee issued the 31-year-old targetman a final warning.
The league leaders were being outplayed by Simon Weaver’s men but did force one late chance on the stroke of half-time, as Andy Brown headed a deep free-kick just over.
Town were dealt a blow in the opening moments of the second period when McGurk pulled up chasing the back to the left corner flag and his exit gave Nat Brown a first appearance in a yellow and black shirt.
Solihull continued to struggle to match Town’s creativity on the heavy pitch and the second goal arrived ten minutes into the second period through Kerry’s cool finish.
From the right flank, Colbeck latched onto Clayton’s chipped pass and his cross was cleared straight to Kerry’s feet and the midfielder buried into the bottom corner.
Two soon became three when Daniels was felled outside the area and Joe Colbeck’s viscous free-kick was followed in for Burrell’s second.
The league leaders had no answer to the waves of Town attacks and Clayton got his deserved goal on 68 minutes when he turned home Daniels’ corner.
Solihull were soon at Town’s mercy and Danny Ellis beat his marker from another Daniels delivery to head the hosts even further ahead with 10 minutes still to play.
It was a painful final slog for the visitors as Weaver’s men continued their onslaught. And the impressive Colbeck galloped onto Clayton’s ball down the right and rifled home a strike off the underside of the crossbar.
The crash of the net hit Solihull hard but it will have also awoken the rest of the National League North to Town’s promotion prospects over the next few months.
Weaver’s men have promised to deliver a devastating performance several times over the last four months but few will have imagined it to have arrived against the favourites to be rising into the National League Premier next season.