Hartlepool United 0 Harrogate Town 1: Jon Stead's strike settles New Year's Day clash
Harrogate Town kicked-off 2020 with a win,Jon Stead’s second-half strike sufficient to earn his team a 1-0 success at Hartlepool United.
Their New Year’s Day victory was Simon Weaver’s side’s third in succession and leaves them just three points shy of the National League summit.
Town’s best chance of the opening 45 fell to Jack Muldoon, who was played in on goal by Jack Emmett’s neat 22nd-minute pass.
Turning sharply and attempting to lift his finish over the advancing Mitchell Beeney, a last-ditch challenge by a covering defender ensured the ball was diverted over the cross-bar.
Seven minutes later, some neat interplay down the right saw Josh Falkingham sent scampering towards the byline and deliver a low cross to the far post, where Warren Burrell was only denied by a splendid block by the flying Gary Liddle.
Despite the joy they were getting when they moved the ball quickly and along the ground, Town then began to resort to hopeful long punts forwards as the interval approached.
Pools finished the half looking the more likely, but without managing to seriously test James Belshaw in the away goal.
The second period began in similar fashion, with the hosts delivering some dangerous balls into the Harrogate box and asking real questions of the visiting defence.
Town then broke out and Falkingham’s clever pass released Stead in behind, however the veteran striker got his finish all wrong and blazed well over.
Undeterred, Stead was then in the right place at the right time to break the deadlock on 57 minutes.
Alex Bradley and Muldoon combined nicely down the right, teeting-up Emmett to deliver a low ball into the six-yard box for the stretching ex-Sheffield United hitman to force over the line.
With Pools desperately seeking a way back into the match, they managed to work some decent openings, though Town defended their six-yard box superbly while continuing to threaten at the other end.
Substitute Mark Beck couldn’t divert Muldoon’s low cross goalwards shortly after coming on, then Connor Hall pulled a strike narrowly wide of the upright from the edge of the box, but the visitors had already done enough.