Wright shines as Town ‘show their class’ in Blyth success

Jake Wright produced a man-of-the-match performance as Harrogate Town put five past Blyth. Picture: Town Pix
Jake Wright produced a man-of-the-match performance as Harrogate Town put five past Blyth. Picture: Town Pix

Jake Wright felt that Harrogate Town “showed their class” as they beat Blyth Spartans 5-1 to move to within three points of the top of National League North.

The 21-year-old netted an Easter Monday brace on just his second start of his second spell at the club having joined from Sheffield United last month.

And his man-of-the-match display was the catalyst for a comfortable victory over eighth-placed Spartans, who are promotion contenders themselves and not mere cannon fodder.

“It’s a great result, 5-1 shows our class and shows how good we are,” Wright reflected.

“We’ve done it as a team. Everything the wingers do, the other striker does, creates opportunities for myself or for the team and it was a team effort.

“We got a good point at Brackley on Friday, shown a reaction [to last week’s defeat to Spennymoor], and then against a good team in Blyth we’ve shown the class we’ve got.”

It was Wright, a threat all afternoon, who came closest to breaking the deadlock when his early looping header was tipped over the cross-bar by visiting stopper Peter Jameson.

With 10 minutes on the clock, big centre-half John McCombe went one better, nodding Joe Leesley’s inswinging corner past Jameson for a 1-0 lead.

Blyth responded well and Robbie Dale was only denied a leveller by the foot of custodian James Belshaw before Jordan Laidler found space on the edge of the box to strike an effort against the bar.

With the tenacious Wright continuing to probe away, Town were soon back on the front foot, however, and after George Thomson fired just wide, they doubled their advantage with 36 minutes on the clock.

Wright did well to get the better of two defenders and squeezed in a cross from the left that was deflected onto to the top of the cross-bar.

The resulting right-wing corner was whipped in invitingly by Joe Leesley and Wright was on hand to head in from close range.

The hosts then appeared to switch off and it was all too easy for Michael Liddle to cross from the left of the area for Sean Reid to ram home at the far post, narrowing the deficit barely two minutes after Town’s second.

Undeterred, Simon Weaver’s men immediately sought to restore their two-goal cushion, and only a fine block by Liddle inside his own six-yard box diverted Thomson’s stinging effort over the top.

However, from the resulting corner, Wright headed goalwards, Jameson parried, but the Town front man showed good strength to get to the rebound.

His effort was blocked by a defender, and the loose ball fell for Ben Parker just three yards out, but his goalbound effort struck Dominic Knowles, almost on the line, before a finishing touch was finally applied.

There was a suspicion of offside about the goal, and the visiting players protested at length, but the match officials were unmoved and Town took a 3-1 lead into half-time.

The home side began the second period seeing plenty of the ball and added a fourth goal eight minutes after the resumption.

Knowles took a lofted pass on his chest, backed into and then held off his marker before slipping the ball in behind for the onrushing Thomson who timed his run to perfection to beat the Blyth offside trap and slot confidently under Jameson.

Spartan Sean Langstaff then fired over the top before the same player ran in on Belshaw’s goal, only to make poor contact with his shot and the ball trickled wide of the far upright.

That was as close as the away team were to come, and with Wright still menacing, the Town lead was stretched to 5-1 in the 69th minute.

Wright was afforded time and space on the left edge of the box and took full advantage, shifting the ball inside and curling the goal of the game past the outstretched paw of Jameson and into the top corner.

Thomson could have made it six moments later as the hosts continued to pour forwards, but flashed a shot across the face of goal.

Jack Emmett then forced a good save from Jameson then whipped an even better chance just past the post soon afterwards, but Town had already done more than enough.

With league leaders Salford City’s clash with Southport postponed, this result sees Weaver’s charges move to within touching distance of pole position having maximised their game in hand.

Elsewhere, a late fightback by Kidderminster Harriers saw them beat third-placed Brackley 2-1, meaning that Town are now eight points ahead of their nearest challengers ahead of Saturday’s crunch derby showdown at York City.