NCEL round-up: A breakthrough at last for goal-shy Knaresborough Town

After more than five and a half hours of competitive football without a goal, Knaresborough Town finally found the back of the net against Garforth Town on Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 7:00 am
Luke Harrop netted his first goal for the club as Knaresborough Town broke their duck at home to Garforth in midweek. Picture: Craig Dinsdale

Paul Stansfield’s team kicked-off their 2019/20 NCEL Premier Division campaign with a 2-0 defeat at AFC Mansfield, then lost 3-0 to Newcastle Benfield in the FA Cup before playing out a goalless draw against Handsworth on Saturday.

And although they are still waiting for a first win of the new season, Luke Harrop’s 64th-minute effort did at least open Boro’s goal-scoring account as well as earning them a good point against a side who came into the match unbeaten in four league and cup outings.

Indeed it was in-form Garforth who took the lead with just six minutes on the clock, Mark Simpson turning sharply and sending a low, driven effort across Sam Lee and into the bottom corner of the home net.

Things could have got worse for Boro before half-time as gloveman Lee was forced into making two important saves, denying ex-Harrogate Railway man Sean Hunter one-on-one then keeping out another Simpson strike.

Stansfield’s men began the second period much better and Harrop played Brad Walker in on goal just five minutes after the resumption, only for Garforth’s Toby Wells to pull off a good stop.

Boro kept coming, however, and got their reward not long after the hour-mark, Harrop applying the finish to register his first goal since signing from Eccleshill United in the summer.

The visitors thought that they had re-taken the lead in the 71st minute, only for an offside flag to cut short Simpson’s celebrations.

With the Miners threatening again, Walker then went down the other end and rattled the away cross-bar, before the game drew to a close with Garforth’s Curtly Martin-Wyatt and Adam Priestly both narrowly off-target with late headers.

On Saturday, Boro spurned numerous chances at Handsworth and had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Harrop was denied four times by the home goalkeeper in the first half alone and also hit the inside of a post, while Dan Thirkell saw an effort cleared off the goal-line.

The second period was a more even affair, though Harrop and Josh Garbutt were again thwarted by Handsworth custodian Ben Townsend as a breakthrough eluded the visitors.

Elsewhere, Harrogate Railway’s inconsistent start to 2019/20 continues.

Des Macorison’s team bounced back from a 10-1 FA Cup mauling by Whickham to win 2-1 on the road at Armthorpe Welfare, only to then concede five in Saturday’s home clash with Selby Town.

The Starbeck club’s midweek success at Armthorpe was their first since they were relegated to NCEL Division One and was achieved despite them playing more than half the game with 10 men.

Joe Jagger clinically smashed a seventh-minute penalty into the top corner of the home net to hand the Rail an early advantage before James Heeley was given his marching orders for a professional foul in the 35th minute.

Despite their numerical disadvantage, Macorison’s men doubled their lead just moments after Heeley’s dismissal, big centre-half Luke McCrum heading home a Josh Shields free-kick.

Armthorpe pulled a goal back from the spot after 54 minutes, but Railway dug deep to cling on for victory.

Saturday’s encounter with Selby did not begin quite so well, however, the hosts finding themselves 3-0 down inside 24 minutes.

Two more goals followed for the Robins before Jagger notched an 89th-minute consolation to take his personal tally to three in three in the league.