How late goals are damaging Harrogate Town’s National League promotion push
Harrogate Town slipped out of the National League play-off positions after conceding in the 92nd minute of Saturday’s home clash with Dagenham & Redbridge.
Simon Weaver’s side took a slender, yet fully-deserved advantage into stoppage-time at the CNG Stadium, but were pegged back by Conor Wilkinson’s close-range finish.
The result meant that Town finished the day in eight place rather than in sixth, the position they would occupy now had they managed to see the game out at 1-0.
And this is not the first time in recent weeks that the Wetherby Road outfit have suffered as points have evaporated in the closing stages of matches.
In their last 10 league outings, the club have dropped no fewer than NINE points as a result of goals conceded after the 80th minute.
Here’s a look at exactly when and where Town have been stung at the death.
December 22. Eastleigh 2-1 Harrogate Town - On course for a point on the South Coast, Cavanagh Miley's 82nd-minute goal meant that Weaver and his men made the long journey back to North Yorkshire empty-handed. (-1 point)
December 26. Harrogate Town 1-2 Halifax Town - Dayle Southwell fired home in the 88th minute as the Shaymen turned the game on its head. (-2)
December 29. Harrogate Town 1-2 AFC Fyde - Danny Rowe converted a hotly-disputed spot-kick in stoppage-time to break Town hearts. (-3)
January 1. Halifax Town 1-1 Harrogate Town - George Thomson's early goal looked as if it was going to be enough to avenge the Boxing Day defeat to Halifax, only for Jonathan Edwards' deflected effort to level matters with 91 minutes on the clock. (-5)
January 5. Sutton United 2-1 Harrogate Town - Harry Beautyman bagged what proved to be the game's decisive goal after 82 minutes. (-6)
February 16. Harrogate Town 1-2 Ebbsfleet United - Another point was surrendered when Andy Drury struck in the 87th minute. (-7)
March 2. Harrogate Town 1-1 Dagenham & Redbridge - Conor Wilkinson denied Town all three points two minutes into stoppage-time. (-9)
Late goals are of course part and parcel of football, and Town have certainly benefited from scoring their fair share at the other end of the pitch.
Most recently, they netted twice in the closing stages at Dover Athletic to earn themselves a 3-2 victory having ended up 2-1 behind.
During the first half of the season they also snatched last-gasp points when they visited Hartlepool United and Gateshead and hosted Dover and Chesterfield.
The worrying trend of conceding during the last 10-12 minutes of matches is however proving costly, particularly with things being so tight in the battle for a top seven finish.
Indeed, had Town managed to secure all nine of the points that they have dropped since December 22, they would find themselves third in the National League, just three points behind leaders Wrexham and with two games in hand.