HARROGATE TOWN 3 - 1 STALYBRIDGE CELTIC
A scintillating second half display ensured Harrogate Town returned to winning ways on Tuesday night as Stalybridge Celtic were beaten 3-1 at The CNG Stadium.
Town had found themselves behind at the break to Andy Owens’ close range header, but the introduction of Andi Thanoj at the interval swung the tie in the hosts’ favour.
The midfielder levelled within four minutes of entering the action; beating Tony McMillan from the edge of the box with a sweet left footed shot.
Four minutes later JP Pittman fired Town in the lead; finding the bottom right corner with a powerful finish to claim his eighth goal of the season.
Dominic Knowles secured the three points in the 73rd minute with a goal on his first start since returning from injury as the striker cut inside on his right foot and finished via the cross bar.
Simon Weaver made two changes from Saturday’s trip to Alfreton with Jack Emmett and Knowles returning to the starting line-up.
Stalybridge midfielder Gary Gee had the first attempt of the windswept evening, but couldn’t direct his header on target under close attention.
Joe Leesley had the hosts’ first attempt on goal, but the winger’s right footed shot was easy for McMillan to hold.
Bridge had looked brighter in the opening half hour, and took the lead in the 23rd minute when a corner was headed back across the face of goal for Owens to head home from close range.
It could have been two six minutes later when Aidan Chippendale latched on to a pull-back but saw his finish deflected behind for a corner that came to nothing.
Just as the second half was coming to a close, Chippendale sparked the contest into life as his superbly struck 40-yard free kick cannoned back off the cross-bar.
Despite the let off, Town counter attacked with pace and should have equalised when Joe Colbeck picked out Knowles at the far post only for the retuning striker to misplace his finish.
Weaver introduced Thanoj at the break, and the midfielder rewarded his Manager’s decision six minutes into the half collecting Knowles’ pass and beating the ‘keeper from outside the box on his left foot.
Four minutes after levelling Pittman turned the tie on its head, finding the bottom right corner with an unstoppable strike from 20 yards out to claim his eighth goal of the season.
As the half time downpour eased, Town started to control the contest with Thanoj dictating the tempo from the middle of the park.
With just over 15 minutes to go, Knowles marked his first start since returning from injury with a goal as the striker received the ball from Tom Platt inside the Stalybridge area, cut back on his right foot and crashed a shot in off the bar.
Adam Mather then gave Town a stern reminder that the visitors still possessed a threat, depite being two goals down, striking the crossbar with a long range attempt.
Thanoj was the next to try his luck from range, bending towards the top corner only for McMillan to make the save.
Substitute strikers Jordan Robertson and Chib Chilaka were inches away from adding to the score line, but couldn’t stretch far enough to convert Colbeck’s teasing cross.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Turner, Colbeck, Burrell, Ainge, Shiels, Platt, Leesley, Knowles (Chilaka 78), Pittman (Robertson 80), Emmett (Thanoj 45)
Subs not used: Ellis, Stewart
Goals: Thanoj 51, Pittman 55, Knowles 73
Stalybridge Celtic: McMillan, Chalmers, Kelly, Gorton, Hughes, Gordon, Chippendale (Gillam 65), Gee, Owens (Tames 48), Wilkins, Mather
Subs not used: Pilkington, Ryan, Wisdom
Goals: Owens 23,
Referee: A Jackson