Leyton Orient 2 Harrogate Town 0: Good Friday defeat fails to seriously dent play-off bid
Harrogate Town remain well-placed in their pursuit of a National League play-off spot despite a Good Friday defeat to top-of-the-table Leyton Orient.
Seventh-placed Eastleigh lost at Dagenham, while Ebbsfleet United (8th) could only muster a point from their trip to already-relegated Havant & Waterlooville.
Thus, despite a 2-0 reverse, Simon Weaver’s team stay sixth and still have a four-point cushion between them and other side of the play-off places.
Things could have ended rather differently in East London, but Town made almost the worst possible start, falling behind with just three minutes on the clock.
James Belshaw had already been forced into a good save by Macauley Bonne, but the visiting stopper couldn’t hold on and the loose ball had to be scrambled behind for a corner.
The resulting set-piece was taken short, and Jobi McAnuff whipped in a left-wing cross that was expertly glanced into the top corner by Luke Coulson.
Harrogate responded well enough to going behind and held their own during the remainder of an opening half that saw both teams look a threat.
Bonne did have the ball in the back of the away net on 21 minutes, though he was offside, while Town’s best moments came from Jordan Thewlis, who fired across the face of goal and also forced Dean Brill into action with a low effort.
Both sides cranked things up a gear after the break and the second period was played at an even more ferocious pace.
O’s frontman Josh Koroma worked himself a sight of goal but blasted wide of the near post before a glorious chance for Town to pull level came and went on the hour-mark.
Thewlis beat the offside trap and ran in on goal, calmly rounded Brill but took a touch too many and could only a scuff against the post before Orient cleared the loose ball.
At the other end, Belshaw was forced into a fine parry at his near post by Marvin Ekpiteta following a corner and it was the hosts who looked the more likely in the closing stages.
Town appeared to have run out of steam and failed to really create anything of note in the final third until Warren Burrell’s superb pass down the right played Thewlis in on goal for a second time.
He again touched the ball around Brill, however his goal-bound shot from a tight angle was expertly hooked away by the covering Coulson.
That was as good as it got for Weaver’s men and in the second minute of added-time substitute Matt Harrold got his head to a right-wing corner a fraction before Liam Kitching and powered home to wrap things up.
Next up for Town is a home clash with Gateshead on Easter Monday (3pm), where a win would guarantee the club a top-seven finish.