First-half blitz takes Town top of the table

Harrogate Town players celebrate one of their four first-half strikes during Tuesday's thrilling success over Alfreton. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town scored four times in the opening 34 minutes of Tuesday night’s victory over Alfreton Town as they moved top of National League North.

Simon Weaver’s side began the evening second in the table, however a 4-3 success at the CNG Stadium coupled with Salford City’s draw at Bradford Park Avenue saw the North Yorkshiremen take over at the summit on goal difference.

Town were simply unplayable during the early exchanges and raced into a commanding position, but visiting Alfreton fought back in the second half and almost pulled off the most unlikley of recoveries.

Jack Emmett played striker Dominic Knowles through on goal to notch the opening goal of the game with 18 minutes on the clock.

On the half-hour-mark, Joe Leesley’s free-kick was pushed away by Alfreton ‘keeper Viktor Johansson, but only as far as Harrogate centre-half Liam Kitching who applied the finish for 2-0.

Three minutes later, targetman Mark Beck glanced home a header from a George Thomson corner, putting the hosts in full control.

And just seconds after opening his account for the evening, Beck was at it again, going through one-on-one with Johansson and dispatching the ball past the visiting gloveman to seemingly end the game as a contest.

Chris Sharp’s close-range strike reduced the deficit shortly before half-time, and a second for Alfreton arrived in the 65th minute when substitute Nyal Bell nodded in for 4-2.

The unthinkable then appeared to be on the cards with more than 20 minutes of the 90 remaining as Bell headed in the away team’s third of the night, setting up a thrilling finale.

Town were able to hold out for a fifth consecutive league triumph in the end though, however they were indebted to goalkeeper James Belshaw who produced a stunning one-handed stop to thwart James Baxendale from levelling matters in the closing stages.

Next up for Weaver’s team, who last occupied pole position in September, is a trip to Boston United on March 3.

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