Late strike earns Harrogate Railway dramatic draw against Bamber Bridge

Lawrence Hunter, right, equalised for Railway on Tuesday night
Lawrence Hunter, right, equalised for Railway on Tuesday night

Lawrence Hunter’s last gasp leveller earned Harrogate Railway a share of the spoils in a pulsating 1-1 draw at home to Bamber Bridge.

Hunter fired in the rebound following Robbie Youhill’s excellent run down the right which ended with his fierce shot striking the inside of the far post.

It levelled proceedings at Station View after Bridge had taken the lead late on with a coolly converted penalty by substitute Andrew Bell.

Hunter’s strike continued Railway’s record of scoring in every match they have played this season, and again encapsulated the quality of the club has to offer despite having one of the lowest budgets in the league.

Despite a tepid start, both teams battled hard to produce an entertaining evening for the small crowd at Station View.

Bamber were the first side to have the ball in the net but Darren Gree’s chip was ruled out by the linesman’s offside flag.

Rail’ forwards Nathan Cartman and Adam Baker were ferocious in their pressing but the home side’s early pressure largely came from whipped crosses, which had opposition stopper Lee Dovey flapping.

Lovely build-up play from Cartman and Baker put Hunter through on the half-hour, but after the winger bent his shot into the corner, the assistant referee contentiously ruled he had made his run too soon.

Youhill’s piledriver from 25 yards went narrowly wide before Bamber had the chance of the first half on the stroke of the break, only to be denied by Rail’ keeper Karl Dean. Dean rushed off his line, and in close proximity, prevented Alistair Waddecar’s goalbound shot with his right hand.

It was a rare breach of Railway’s defence, with the back four of Harry Coates, Mike Morris, Dan Thirkell and Greg Kidd, and captain Jason Mycoe shielding, look assured, belying their position as the league’s leakiest defence.

Bamber had the better early moments of the second half and Dean looked unconvincing at dealing with deep crosses.

Waddecar struck the post before visiting forward Greg Johnstone blazed over from ten yards.

Bamber struck the woodwork again from captain Matty Kay’s cross before another goal was disallowed for offside, this time from substitute Bell’s precise header.

With the game header for a stalemate, Greg Kidd handed the Preston-based visitors a glorious chance with a misjudged foul just inside the Rail area.

The left-back got the wrong side of his man, and Bell sent Dean the wrong way from 12 yards.

Rail’ pressed for an equaliser but 10-goal striker Cartman failed to convert a good chance on the edge of the box.

However, with only injury time remaining, Youhill, who had shown pace throughout, darted down the right-wing before turning inside and unleashing a blistering strike towards the far post.

As it rebounded towards the penalty spot, Hunter calmly chested down before slotting into the bottom right-hand corner and sending the bundle of Station View supporters into a frenzy.

It was a goal that took Railway level on points with 14th place in Evo-Stik First Division North, and denied Bridge a first win in five league matches.

Railway are next in action on Saturday at home to Spennymoor Town in the opening round of the FA Trophy (kick-off 3pm).