A youthful and inexperienced Harrogate Town side bowed out of the West Riding FA County Cup on Tuesday evening when they were beaten 3-1 by Bradford Park Avenue.
Boss Simon Weaver made 11 changes from Saturday’s 6-3 league win over Alfreton Town, with Louie Swain and Lewis Turner the only players in the starting line-up having featured at the weekend.
Despite a fine Marcus Day header pulling the hosts level after Luke Dean’s opener, further first-half goals from Lee Spires and Emile Sinclair ensured Town exited the competition at the hands of last year’s winners.
For the visitors, ex-Harrogate players Dean, Adam Nowakowski, Ryan Toulson and Harry Coates all lined up against their former club.
The first chances of the evening went to the Bradford outfit as Nicky Rowe and Sanchez Payne both shot into the arms of home gloveman Chris Elliott.
Town’s young charges then had a chance of their own when Joe Dorkings placed Prince Attarkorah’s shot over the bar, but the hosts were soon behind.
Old boy Dean managed to power a shot underneath Elliott with 19 minutes gone after the ball fell kindly for the Bradford man following Toby Lees’ well-timed block.
Town levelled on 25 minutes when Day climbed highest to head Swain’s cross into the back of the net, though the hosts were only on terms for a matter of seconds.
Almost immediately from the re-start, Spires struck one from 30 yards that found its way past Elliott for 2-1.
Avenue added a third with just five minutes remaining of the first half as Sinclair finished a well-worked move at the near post.
Day and Swain almost combined to conjure up another goal nine minutes into the second period, but on this occasion Town’s scorer could not connect with the full-back’s low cross.
Elliott was then forced into an impressive save with 67 minutes gone to keep out substitute Nicky Boshell’s curling strike with a strong right hand.
With Town’s young legs tiring, both Payne and Boshell almost capped good performances with goals but their respective efforts ended up marginally off target.
Despite this, the tie ended in a comfortable victory for the visitors ahead of the two sides’ National League North meeting in just four days time.