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Harrogate Town 3 - 3 Barrow

by Hal Boxhall-Dockree
10 December 2016

 HARROGATE TOWN 3 - 3 BARROW

 

Barrow needed an 88th minute equaliser to extend their unbeaten run to 23 matches after Town almost came from 2-0 down to reach the FA Trophy 2nd Round.

 

A disastrous start saw Town fall two behind in the opening eight minutes as Jordan Williams and Ritchie Bennett both claimed early goals.

Town Captain Simon Ainge pulled a goal back with a trademark header from Joe Leesley's corner just before the half hour mark to set up a dramatic comeback.

Leesley found the equaliser moments before the break as the winger collected Joe Colbeck's pass, engineered a bit of space and fired into the bottom corner.

The turnaround was then completed by JP Pittman in the 61st minute as the striker followed up his own saved penalty to put Town in the lead.

With Town down to ten men following a straight red card to right back Lewis Turner in the 77th minute, Barrow threw everything at their opponents and found the goal that kept their streak alive through Bennett in the 88th minute.

Paul Cox was certainly not taking the competition lightly and named an unchanged side from Saturday's memorable FA Cup 2nd Round win over Bristol Rovers.

Simon Weaver made one change from Tuesday night's 3-0 win at Salford with Chib Chilaka taking the place of Wayne Brooksby.

The in-form visitors made a scintillating start to the clash; taking the lead after just two minutes when Williams converted Byron Harrison's cross at the back post.

The National League side doubled their advantage just six minutes later when Ryan Yates' shot trickled through to Bennett who poked past the advancing Chris Elliott.

Town's first opening came moments before the half hour mark as Joe Leesley's deep cross was met by JP Pittman at the back post only for Tim Erlandson to block.

The hosts had settled after a shaky start and clawed a goal back 29 minutes in when Ainge assertively headed Leesley's corner into the back of the net.

Both sides then exchanged chances as Bennett's attempted lob with Elliott out of position was a fraction too high seconds before Chilaka's shot on the turn forced Erlandsson into a smart save.

Leesley then completed the first half comeback, after fantastic hold up play on the half way line from Chilaka had allowed Colbeck to break down the right and pick out Leesley, who beat his man and fired into the bottom corner!

Town were then given the opportunity to take the lead for the first time when Referee Scott Oldham awarded a penalty for a push on Ainge.

Pittman stepped up to take the kick and, although Erlandsson kept out the strike, Pittman was first to react and bundle into the net.

With 13 minutes to play the leaders were reduced to ten men as Lewis Turner brought down Ross Hannah with the substitute running through on goal.

The Bluebirds almost levelled from the resulting free kick only for Elliott to pull off an unbelievable save to keep out Andy Haworth's strike.

After throwing everything they could at the ten men of Town, Barrow eventually found the equaliser that kept their unbeaten run going as Bennett was left unmarked six yards out and coolly finished.

The two sides will now meet on Tuesday night at Barrow to determine who will go through to the FA Trophy 2nd Round.

Harrogate Town: Elliott, Turner, Swain, Thanoj, Ainge, Thirlwell (Shiels 45), Colbeck, Burrell, Pittman (Day 86), Chilaka (Brooksby 79), Leesley

Subs not used: Emmett, Clee

Goals: Ainge 29, Leesley 42, Pittman 61

Booked: Ainge, Thanoj, Brooksby

Sent off: Turner

Barrow: Erlandsson, Beeley, Anderton, Liversey, Diarra, Harvey, Hughes (Haworth 71), Yates, Bennett, Harrison (Hannah 74), Williams

Subs not used: Meikle, Wright, Anderson

Goals: Williams 2, Bennett 8, 88

Referee: S Oldham

Attendance: 441