Town sink Telford to claw way back into title race

Simon AInge, left, is mobbed by Ben Middleton and Joe Leesley after netting his side's second goal against AFC Telford United. Picture: Town Pix
Simon AInge, left, is mobbed by Ben Middleton and Joe Leesley after netting his side's second goal against AFC Telford United. Picture: Town Pix
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Just seven days after their title hopes seemed to have evaporated following a defeat at Salford City, Harrogate Town clawed their way back into contention at the top of National League North.

A 2-1 loss to the league leaders left Simon Weaver’s side 11 points adrift of top spot, but rather than feeling sorry for themselves the men from the CNG Stadium have bounced back with successive victories and already reduced that gap significantly.

An emphatic midweek success over Stockport County was followed up by a 2-1 home win against AFC Telford United on Saturday.

Elsewhere, Salford were turned over by third-placed Brackley, leaving Town just five points off the summit.

“We’re not going to get carried away because we have gone from 11 points to five points, we would have been delighted with that outcome after last week, but there is still a lot of football to play,” boss Weaver said.

Joe Leesley gave Town the lead in Saturday’s clash with second-from-bottom Telford, collecting George Thomson’s 33rd-minute cross, cutting inside onto his right foot and curling the ball into the top corner.

The advantage was doubled six minutes into the second period when some neat interplay afforded Jack Emmett the opportunity to send over a ball from the right and Simon Ainge expertly nodded the ball back across goal and into the net at the far post.

Subsitute Mark Beck came closest to extending the home lead, rattling the crossbar with a header and then being denied by Telford goalkeeper Ryan Scholfield when one-on-one.

With time almost up, the visitors did pull a goal back when Jordan Murphy struck following a corner, but his effort proved too little, too late to deny Harrogate maximum points.

“There was a lot at stake for both teams, which is probably why it was a bit of a tense affair - we had everything to lose because Telford are down there [in the league standings],”Weaver added.

“It was a slippery type of game up against a side who are fighting for their lives and perhaps we’d raised expectations by scoring 15 goals in the last four home games.

“There was pressure on us, however, we got the job done. We’ve played better but I’ll take the three points any day.

“They were a nervous last few minutes, but credit to the boys, they saw it out.”