Harrogate Town 1 - 4 Darlington 1883
Harrogate Town suffered a fourth straight league defeat and a heaviest home reverse in over a year as Darlington strolled to a 4-1 victory at The CNG Stadium.
Joshua Gillies put the visitors ahead after just four minutes when his cross/shot found the far corner, though Town did force a first half equaliser when Reece Webb-Foster headed home on his first start for the club.
Town were only level for a matter of seconds though, as Mark Beck converted from close range to restore Darlington’s lead.
Danny Ellis thought he had pulled Town level once again after heading Andi Thanoj’s free kick into the back of the net, only for the goal to be ruled out for a foul.
On the stroke of half time it was three as Stephen Thompson’s long range drive found a way past Peter Crook to give The Quakers a commanding lead.
The afternoon the got worse for Simon Weaver’s men as Captain Ellis was shown a straight red card for a foul as the last man.
With the lead and man advantage, Dave Syers added a fourth on 58 minutes with the hosts not able to launch an unlikely comeback.
Weaver made five changes from Tuesday night’s home defeat to Kidderminster and handed a first start to on-loan Bradford City striker Webb-Foster.
Martin Gray’s side made a superb start to the contest and took the lead after just four minutes when Gillies was given too much time on the left wing and curled right footed into the top corner.
Town responded well to conceding the early goal as Marcus Day threaded Webb-Foster through on goal only for Liam Marrs to recover and make a goal saving challenge.
Thanoj then sent a trademark free kick towards the top corner only for Peter Jameson to stretch out an arm and turn the effort round the post.
With 32 minutes gone, Simon Ainge directed a diagonal ball to Joe Colbeck who sent a first time cross towards Webb-Foster to place a header into the far corner and mark his first Town start with a goal.
Just seconds after pulling level, Town once again fell behind as The Quakers attacked down the left and found Nathan Cartman whose blocked shot fell to Beck to finish from close range.
With five minutes remaining of the half, Lewis Turner almost levelled for the second time after receiving a pass from Wayne Brooksby, but seeing Jameson save with his feet.
Ellis then thought he had made it 2-2 when he headed Thanoj’s free kick into the back of the net only for Referee Stephen Copeland to disallow the goal for a foul.
Just as the contest entered first half stoppage time the visitors made it three as Thompson took aim from 30 yards and beat Crook.
Within two minutes of the restart the afternoon turned from bad to worse for Town as Ellis was shown a straight red card for a foul as the last defender.
The visitors made their numerical advantage pay after 58 minutes as Town were caught on the break and allowed Syers to apply the finish minutes after being introduced from the bench.
With Gray’s men three goals to the good and with a man advantage, the contest fizzled out somewhat with Darlington controlling possession with ease.
Former Town man Liam Hardy did force Crook into a save after 77 minutes as the Harrogate stopper palmed the ball behind for a corner.
Chib Chilaka’s 35 yard strike that whistled past the post was the last action of a defeat that leaves Town eighth in the National League North.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Ellis, Ainge, Platt, Colbeck, Burrell, Thanoj, Turner, Brooksby (Leesley 51), Day (Chilaka 51), Webb-Foster (Purkiss 62)
Subs not used: Gascoigne, Elliot
Goals: Webb-Foster 32
Sent off: Ellis
Darlington: Jameson, Marrs (Davie 62), Galbraith, Turnbull, Burgess, Brown, Thompson, Falkingham, Beck, Cartman (Hardy 70), Gillies (Syers 55)
Subs not used: Bell, Watson
Goals: Gillies 4, Beck 33, Thompson 45, Syers 57
Referee: S Copeland