Town beat Railway to secure John Smiths Trophy success

Harrogate Town under-21s with the John Smiths Trophy. Picture: HTAFC
Harrogate Town under-21s with the John Smiths Trophy. Picture: HTAFC

Harrogate Town retained the John Smiths Trophy following a 7-3 victory over Harrogate Railway in their annual pre-season fixture.

Town fielded an under-21s side that featured a number of first team trialists including former Dundee forward Leighton McIntosh, ex-Barnsley centre-back Bailey Gooda and striker Sonni Coleman.

And the hosts dominated the first half of Thursday’s clash at the CNG Stadium, racing into a 4-0 lead before the interval.

They were in front with just seven minutes on the clock after Rail centre-half Ryan Basi misjudged a ball over the top and Coleman nipped in behind him before poking past the advancing Jordan Myers in the visitors’ goal.

McIntosh proved a menace throughout and having come close to extending Town’s advantage on two occasions, he eventually made it 2-0 in the 26th minute with a tidy finish into the bottom corner.

McIntosh then added number three, netting from close range from a corner before Coleman took the scoreline to 4-0 when he was left unmarked in the six-yard box to power home a header following another set-piece.

Railway made a number of changes at the break and began the second period in far more positive fashion.

They pulled a goal back in the 49th minute when Albert Ibrahimi drilled a low free-kick towards the bottom corner of Liam Powell’s goal. Although the Town stopper managed to parry the initial strike, substitute Dio Mendes Fernandes was on hand to fire in the loose ball.

The home team wasted little time in restoring their four-goal cushion and Jake Charles cut inside from the left-flank and rolled home for 5-1.

Railway kept going, however, and with Kyle Willis looking a threat down the left flank they began to cause their hosts a few problems.

Willis went one-on-one with Powell, only to be denied by the Town keeper, but moments later he unleashed an effort that the gloveman could not hold and Fernandes was on hand to slam in the rebound.

A fine run from Ibrahimi then took him into the box, around Powell, and despite having little space to work in, he showed great footwork to pull the ball back for Fernandes to fire in his hat-trick goal at the near post.

With the visitors scenting a comeback, they continued to press forwards and skipper Jordan Hendrie rattled the woodwork with a strike from distance.

Town then re-asserted their authority when Max Hill stroked home from the edge of the box for 6-3 and Billy Sharp smashed in number seven with the last kick of the game.

Reflecting on his side’s performance, Rail boss Liam Gray said: “To say that six of the players who started the game for us hadn’t met before, I thought we did okay.

“It was our first match together so it was always going to be tough, we gave away some really soft goals, but the second-half performance was very pleasing.

“We went in 4-0 down at half-time, I asked for a reaction and I got one. We showed good character to come out and get back into the game in the second 45.

“The lads got minutes under their belts and we now have a better idea of what we’ve got, where we are strong, and where we need to improve.”

Twenty four hours earlier, Harrogate Town’s first team triumphed 1-0 at NCEL Premier Division outfit Parkgate thanks to Jordan Thewlis’ second-half strike.

Knaresborough Town were also victorious against NCEL Premier opposition on Wednesday evening, claiming a superb 4-1 success over Pickering Town.

Goals from Dom Wilson, Fraser Lancaster and Steve Bromley moved Paul Stansfield’s men into a 3-0 lead before Ryan Blott pulled a goal back from the penalty spot.

Ben Cohen’s 85th-minute effort then rounded off an excellent victory against a side who ply their trade in the division above Knaresborough.