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Town within touching distance of summit after Brakes success

Dom Knowles netted Harrogate Town's third goal at Leamington. Picture: Town Pix
Dom Knowles netted Harrogate Town's third goal at Leamington. Picture: Town Pix

Harrogate Town moved to within two points of the National League North summit courtesy of a 3-1 success on the road at Leamington.

Defeat for leaders Salford City at York means that Simon Weaver’s side are potentially just one win away from taking over at the top, despite finding themselves 11 points behind the Ammies only 21 days ago.

Saturday’s victory was Town’s third on the bounce in the league, and immediately went some way to making up for the disappointment of Tuesday night’s FA Trophy exit at the hands of Billericay Town.

Things could however have ended very differently in Warwickshire, however, as the struggling Brakes spurned a glorious chance to level the scores just moments before Town’s third goal, then saw a spot-kick saved by Harrogate stopper James Belshaw.

“It could have been a momentum-swinger,” boss Weaver said of the 79th-minute penalty miss.

“It could have become a difficult last 15 minutes, but Belly was there as he has been for us all season, and it was a great save to his left.

“You’ve seen games change momentum with a penalty like that going in, despite a team being on top throughout the game, but I thought we deserved the win.

“I was impressed with the attitude. It was a long journey back the other night having lost at Billericay, but we came out fighting in every single position today.”

Experienced centre-half John McCombe made his Town debut having signed from Chester just 24 hours earlier, partnering Leeds United loanee Liam Kitching, another player making a first league start for the club.

And after a positive start to the game, Weaver’s team took the lead just after the half-hour-mark as Jack Emmett’s low cross from close to the byline was finished neatly at the near post by Mark Beck.

Leamington drew level in the 53rd minute when Liam Canavan netted just seconds after coming off the substitutes’ bench, but parity was short-lived.

Less than two minutes later, George Thomson’s corner evaded everyone in the box and found its way through to Kitching who was able to tap home at the back stick.

A fine Belshaw save then denied James Mace from point-blank range, before the combination of the Town gloveman and Joe Leesley kept Leamington at bay and Canavan blazed the loose ball over the top from close range with the goal at his mercy.

From the resulting goal kick, Dom Knowles got himself in behind the home back four and squeezed the ball past Brakes custodian Tony Breeden to put his side 3-1 up.

Kitching was then penalised inside his own box, however Canavan’s low spot-kick was crucially kept out by Belshaw and Town were able to see out the remainder of the match.

Next up for Weaver and his troops is a trip to Kidderminster Harriers on Saturday, 3pm kick-off.