Harrogate Hockey Club Mens 1st XI won for the third week in succession, edging a tight affair with Preston 2nds by the narrowest of margins.
Robin Walker’s men kept a rare clean-sheet – just their seventh in their last 100 outings –as they climbed up to fourth place in the North Division One standings courtesy of a 1-0 victory.
“It was pretty tense, certainly in the last 10 minutes,” captain Walker reflected.
“In the first half we allowed Preston too much time on the ball, but second half I don’t know where some of them got the energy from to work so hard and grind out that result.”
There were no goals in an opening period that saw both teams pressing and probing, although Harrogate did manage two yellow cards with Alfie Weaver and Andrew Clemerson both sin-binned.
The second half started just as the first had ended with neither side giving much away.
Preston looked the more likely to break the deadlock as they were awarded a couple of penalty-corners in quick succession, but they were unable to finish any of their routines.
Harrogate’s top scorer Charles Edmondson then made the breakthrough, 10 minutes after the resumption, sending the Ainsty Road faithful into raptures.
Olly Jordan pressed a visiting defender into a mistake and Clemerson seized on the opportunity to pinch the ball and deliver a pass across goal for a first-time finish by Edmondson.
The closing stages of the match were extremely tense as ‘Gate attempted to hold onto their slender advantage.
The hosts were indebted to goalkeeper Rob Stanworth for a fine performance between the sticks, and on the one occasion that he was beaten, Weaver covered superbly and cleared the ball off his own line.
Harrogate 2nds endured an afternoon to forget, going down to a 7-1 reverse at Bradford 1sts.
Some slick play saw the hosts take a five-goal lead into half-time and although Josh Lyon pulled one back in the second half, that was as good as it got for ‘Gate.
The Mens 3rds recovered from going 2-0 down to win 4-3 at Sheffield Hallam 4ths thanks to goals from Oli Sanders (2), Bradley Hopps and Richard Bancroft.
Harrogate’s 4th XI drew 0-0 at home to Leeds 6ths.