Leesley fires Town to FA Cup replay success at Bradford

Harrogate Town winger Joe Leesley shone in his side's FA Cup triumph at Bradford Park Avenue. Picture: Town Pix
Harrogate Town winger Joe Leesley shone in his side's FA Cup triumph at Bradford Park Avenue. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town secured their place in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup at the second time of asking, beating Bradford Park Avenue 2-0 in Monday night’s replay.

After over two hours of football between the sides without a goal, Joe Leesley was the catalyst for Simon Weaver’s men, scoring one and creating the other to set up a home tie with either Gainsborough Trinity or Leamington on October 14.

The Town boss made one change from Saturday’s goalless draw at the CNG Stadium, handing Scunthorpe United loanee Noel Burdett a start up front.

Liam Agnew almost came up with the opening goal after bundling his way through the Bradford back-line in the eighth minute, but fired over the top.

Avenue then rattled the frame of the Harrogate goal when Oli Johnson held off his marker and saw his shot on the turn connect with the upright.

Town also hit the woodwork just nine minutes later, Leesley’s strike taking a deflection and looping over gloveman Steve Drench, but bouncing back off the crossbar.

Visiting centre-half Terry Kennedy then denied Johnson the opening goal when he cut out former Town winger Nicky Clee’s cross at the near post with five minutes of the half remaining.

Six minutes after the re-start, Bradford’s Nicky Wroe almost broke the deadlock in emphatic fashion, smashing a volley off the crossbar that bounced down onto the line and eventually away to safety.

Ryan Fallowfield then came to Town’s rescue to keep the scores level, diverting Johnson’s goalbound effort over his own bar.

With 19 minutes to play, and after well over two hours of stalemate between the sides, George Thomson teed up Leesley from a free-kick and the winger’s powerful shot wrong-footed Drench on its way into the back of the net.

The impressive Johnson almost came up with an instant reply for Avenue, but saw his flicked header from a free-kick sail over.

With the hosts throwing men forward in a bid to get back on terms and Town countering at pace, the contest became an extremely lively affair in the closing stages.

And it was Town who made sure that it was to be they who progressed with two minutes to go as Leesley’s corner was headed into his own net by second-half substitute Boshell.