Brackley loss leaves Town winless in six games

Joe Leesley's goal wasn't enough to save Harrogate Town from defeat. Picture: Town Pix
Joe Leesley's goal wasn't enough to save Harrogate Town from defeat. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town failed to round off their 2016/17 home campaign on a high as they went down 2-1 to Brackley at the CNG Stadium.

The Saints grabbed the advantage five minutes before half-time through James Armson’s finish and extended their lead six minutes after the interval when Alex Gudger struck.

Joe Leesley’s sensational free-kick gave Town hope of a comeback, but despite the introduction of strike duo Simon Ainge and JP Pittman, the visitors held on to leave Simon Weaver’s side without a win in six matches.

The Sulphurites’ chief made three changes from Easter Monday’s meeting with Halifax as Lewis Turner, Liam Agnew and Marcus Day came into the starting XI.

The first 10 minutes were slowed due to what looked a nasty looking injury to Luke Graham, though Brackley’s number five was eventually able to carry on.

Armson had the best chance of the opening stages after 13 minutes, but shot wide of the far post.

Town’s first opening arrived just past the half-hour mark as Turner raced to the byline and pulled back towards Jack Emmett, only for the winger to blaze over the top.

Lee Ndlovu had a good chance to put Brackley ahead seven minutes before the break following Adam Walker’s delicate through-ball, however he fired wide of the target.

Two minutes later the visitors took the lead as Glenn Walker’s cross fell to Armson unmarked at the back stick, and he made no mistake in beating gloveman Peter Crook from close range.

Weaver’s side started the second period brightly stopper Laurie Walker was forced into action when Joe Colbeck took aim from the edge of the box.

The positive start to the new half did not last for long though, as Gudger rose highest from a corner and headed towards the ground and into the back of the net just six minutes after the resumption.

Town then had their goalkeeper to thank for keeping the score at 2-0 as Crook kept out Armson’s low strike to prevent the midfielder claiming his second of the afternoon.

A moment of magic from Leesley then offered the hosts a route back into the game as the winger curled a free-kick into the top left corner of the net from 25 yards out, moments before the hour-mark.

Leesley’s strike injected a bit of life into Town, though it was the visitors who created the next chance on the counter-attack, but Crook kept out Armson’s drive.

Then, with 10 minutes to play, Ben Parker threw himself in the way of Ellis Myles’ powerful drive to keep the home team in with a sniff.

Harrogate failed to craft an opening inside the final ten minutes, however, as Brackley’s strong end to the season continued with an eighth successive fixture without defeat.