Harrogate Town 1 Halifax 2: Another lead thrown away as Boxing Day clash ends in defeat

Callum Howe fires Harrogate Town ahead during the Boxing Day defeat to Halifax. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Callum Howe fires Harrogate Town ahead during the Boxing Day defeat to Halifax. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Harrogate Town once again threw away a first-half advantage as they lost out 2-1 to Yorkshire rivals Halifax on Boxing Day.

Simon Weaver's team took an early lead at Eastleigh five days earlier but ended up empty-handed, and it was case of history repeating itself on Wednesday afternoon.

Callum Howe's 37th-minute strike deservedly sent the hosts in at the break a goal to the good, however their performance levels dropped in the second period and the Shaymen were able to turn the game on its head.

Town began brightly, Dominic Knowles seeing a goal-bound strike blocked, Josh Falkingham volleying wide and Michael Woods forcing a superb save from visiting custodian Sam Johnson.

Woods then stabbed an audacious effort just the wrong side of the post with the outside of his right foot before Halifax countered and created their one clear opening of the first period.

Jordan Preston and Matty Kosylo linked nicely during a swift raid down the right, the former teeing up Dayle Southwell, who was denied superbly by Town stopper James Belshaw one-on-one.

Undeterred, Town kept coming and when Joe Leesley's left-wing free-kick was headed on by Liam Kitching it eventually broke for Howe at the far post where he was able to take a touch and crash a shot into the back of the net.

Another chance arrived five minutes before the interval, Kitching rising at the back post to meet a left-wing corner but nodding straight at Johnson.

Town were certainly good value for their lead, though they never really got going in the second half and this was ultimately to prove costly.

The scores were levelled 10 minutes after the resumption when Belshaw got down well to deny Southwell, however the resulting corner saw Nathan Clarke force a downward header past two Harrogate players on the goal-line.

Kitching could have restored the home advantage when he met Leesley's cross from the left, only to glance wide of the mark, then Leesley himself lashed an effort across the face of goal when well placed.

With just two minutes of normal time remaining, the contest looked to be petering out into a draw until Southwell drilled an excellent strike across Belshaw and into the bottom corner from the right side of the penalty area.

Defeat, just the club's second at home this term, sees Weaver's men slip down two places to sixth in the National League standings.