Harrogate town 2 - 0 boston united
Town Kick Off Home Campaign With Victory
Harrogate Town started their home campaign for the 2016/17 season with a convincing 2-0 win over play-off hopefuls Boston United.
Only a point separated the two teams at the end of last season, but two minutes from the end of a first half that saw six yellow cards issued, Dominic Knowles separated the teams with a typically composed finish.
Boston reacted well to going behind, but couldn’t find a way past the Town rearguard before Lloyd Kerry’s 69th minute strike found the bottom corner and put the three points beyond doubt.
Simon Weaver made one change from Saturday’s season opening draw at Worcester City; introducing Andy Gascoigne in place of Joe Colbeck.
Within the first two minutes Town Captain Simon Ainge asserted his physicality on the contest, outjumping Christian Dibble and powering a header just over the crossbar.
A couple of minutes passed and the hosts had the ball in the net through Gascoigne’s classy finish, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag.
Jordan Robertson then came within a fraction of giving Town the lead in the ninth minute when Joe Leesley’s corner dropped to the feet of the striker, whose finish struck the underside of the bar.
It was far from one way traffic though, as The Pilgrims went close through Lewis Hilliard’s free kick tipped away by Peter Crook.
Leesley soon created another chance for Weaver’s men; whipping a cross towards Dominic Knowles at the back post whose improvised chested finish flashed agonisingly across the face of goal.
Crook was again needed to be alert with 23 minutes gone, keeping out Waide Fairhurst’s strike before watching Joe Maguire head wide the resulting corner.
The pre-match downpour looked to be having an effect on the evening as players slid in to challenges resulting in no less than six players cautioned in the opening half.
With eight minutes to play until the break, Robertson knocked Leesley’s pass into the path of Gascoigne who zipped a first time volley towards the bottom corner that Dibble just about kept out.
Town went close again two minutes later and again it was Leesley who was involved, as the wide midfielder found the head of Ainge who headed over.
The opener eventually came for the hosts two minutes before the interval as Knowles ran through on goal before expertly lifting the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper Dibble and in.
Dennis Greene’s men started the second half brightly and forced Ainge into a well-timed block moments before Callum Chippendale struck into the arms of Crook.
Crook was forced into making a smart reaction save just past the hour mark as the Town stopper stretched to tip Joe Maguire’s header over the bar.
Weaver responded to the pressure by introducing Jack Emmett for Gascoigne, and the winger instantly combined with Leesley down the left, with the latter’s powerful strike blocked by the feet of Dibble.
The hosts’ intensity had noticeably increased and almost resulted in a second goal moments later as, first Shiels’ volley struck Dibble in the centre of the goal and bounced clear, then Robertson finished well but was flagged for offside.
Town’s second goal of the evening arrived in the 69th minute when Kerry received possession just outside the area and drilled low into the bottom left corner.
The Pilgrims looked for a way back into the game, only for Crook to stretch out a hand and keep out Chippendale’s free kick that had looked destined to find the top corner.
Greene introduced former Railway striker Lamin Colley in an attempt to claw back the deficit, and although the forward had a few sights of goal, never troubled Crook.
The home side comfortably saw out the remainder of the game to claim a first three points of the season ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Altrincham.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Turner (Burrell 32), Parker, Thanoj, Ainge, Shiels, Kerry, Leesley, Robertson (Pittman 84), Knowles, Gascoigne (Emmett 62)
Subs not used: Chilaka, Ellis
Goals: Knowles 43, Kerry 69
Booked: Shiels, Leesley, Turner, Ainge, Kerry
Boston United: Dibble, Thomas, Maguire, Pepe-Ngoma, Wildin, Rollins, Roberts (Colley 72), Chippendale (Burgess 84), St Juste, Fairhurst, Hilliard (Price 55), St Juste
Subs not used: Adams, Emery
Booked: Wildin, Maguire
Referee: S Mather