Harrogate Town 1-0 Bradford Park Avenue
Nine man Harrogate Town held on to a 1-0 advantage to claim a memorable Yorkshire derby win over Bradford Park Avenue at The CNG Stadium.
Simon Ainge headed Simon Weaver’s side into the lead after ten minutes, but the outlook of the afternoon changed on the stroke of half time as JP Pittman was shown a straight red card.
Town’s Captain and goal scorer was then too given his marching orders after picking up a second booking in the 64th minute.
It looked as though Avenue would level when they were awarded a spot kick in the 69th minute only for Peter Crook to pull off a fantastic double save to send Town to all three points.
Weaver named the same starting line-up that put six goals past Alfreton Town last weekend with Ainge partnering Pittman in attack.
The visitors squandered the first chance of the afternoon as Danny Boshell accelerated down the right and pulled back towards brother Nicky who slotted wide.
It was Town who took the lead though, as the bang in form Ainge continued where he left off against Alfreton finishing off Joe Colbeck’s cross with a typically powerful header ten minutes in.
Ten minutes later Weaver’s men almost claimed a second as Pittman crashed Ainge’s knock down off the crossbar.
Former Town man Adam Nowakowski then went close to levelling with a header from N Boshell’s free kick that landed just wide.
Eight minutes before the break Town’s Captain managed another effort on target connecting with Colbeck’s cross, but this time Jon Worsnop was there to claim.
As the contest entered first half stoppage time, Pittman slid in to win the ball on the edge of the BPA box, with Referee Paul Brown deeming the tackle dangerous and brandishing a red card for Town’s top scorer.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Town created the first chance of the second half when Luke Shiels headed Joe Leesley’s corner just wide.
Mark Bower’s side almost pulled level moments before the hour mark as D Boshell was first to react to Crook’s palmed clearance and fired narrowly over the bar.
The task of holding on to their lead became increasingly more difficult for Town in the 64th minute when scorer Ainge was shown a second yellow card that saw Town reduced to nine.
Park Avenue were handed a golden opportunity to level in the 69th minute when Referee Paul Brown pointed to the spot as Tom Platt brought down Reece Web- Foster.
Crook was equal to the effort though, springing to his left to keep out N Boshell’s spot kick, and keep out the rebound.
Tensions threatened to boil over in the 83rd minute when a strong challenge from Ryan Toulson on Andi Thanoj caused players to react angrily to the incident.
Although BPA were pouring men forward for a leveller, Town almost made it two in the 88th minute as Colbeck powered down the right and forced Worsnop into beating the effort away.
Town’s defence headed away everything that came their way to record a first clean sheet in the National League North since November 5th.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Platt, Parker, Thanoj, Shiels, Ainge, Colbeck, Kerry, Pittman, Burrell, Leesley (Swain 72)
Subs not used: Chilaka, Ellis, Turner, Jerome
Goals: Ainge 10
Booked: Ainge, Colbeck, Thanoj
Sent off: Pittman, Ainge
Bradford PA: Worsnop, Toulson, Nowakowski (Webb-Foster 63), Dean (Chippendale 57), Killock, Knowles, Wroe, D Boshell, Sharp (Dyche 77), Sinclair, N Boshell
Subs not used: Coates, Hall
Referee: P Brown