FC United of Manchester 2-2 Harrogate Town
Harrogate Town were forced to settle for a point after twice being pegged back from a goal up at FC United of Manchester.
Tom Platt headed Town into the lead after just three minutes, but the advantage lasted only until the 26th minute when Jason Gilchrist levelled.
Kuda Muskwe found the net on his debut just two minutes after the restart, but again Town’s lead was cancelled out as George Thomson fired in with fifteen to play.
The hosts thought they had snatched all three points deep into added time when Gilchrist tapped home from close range, but the linesman had judged the goal to be offside.
Simon Weaver made two enforced changes from last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Bradford Park Avenue with Louie Swain and Muskwe replacing the suspended Simon Ainge and JP Pittman.
Town made a superb start to the afternoon winning a corner inside the opening two minutes as Swain’s header was turned over by Adriano Basso.
There was nothing the Reds’ stopper could do from the resulting set piece though, as Platt met Joe Leesley’s delivery at the back post to head the visitors into an early lead.
Town almost grabbed a second four minutes later as Warren Burrell slid in to win possession in the FC United area and forced a save from Basso at the stopper’s near post.
Town went close to doubling their advantage again, but were twice unable to find the finishing touch as Swain and Burrell fell just short of meeting Joe Colbeck and Leesley’s delicious deliveries.
Moments after Muskwe had dragged just wide on the counter attack, Karl Marginson’s men pulled level when Jake Williams played in Gilchrist, whose finish clipped the legs of Platt and wrong footed Peter Crook.
The hosts almost pulled off a remarkable turnaround in the 33rd minute when Matthew Wolfenden expertly collected a diagonal ball and volleyed towards goal, only for Crook to deflect the effort onto the cross bar.
While Town had started better, FC United finished the half strongly and could have been ahead if not for the wayward shooting of winger Thomson.
Despite the hosts’ strong finish, Town started the second half like they did the first; with a goal inside the opening three minutes.
Muskwe managed to get a toe on the ball before Basso, ands was quickest to the loose ball to squeeze past the recovering defender and in for a debut goal.
Swain had a chance to make it a two goal lead just before the hour mark as the striker controlled Lloyd Kerry’s lofted pass on his chest, but powered just wide of the far post.
Colbeck was next to go close for the visitors, though Basso tipped round the post for a corner, from which Luke Shiels headed over the bar.
Despite the majority of chances falling the visitors way, The Red Rebels again levelled as Thomson fired in low from the edge of the area.
Marginson introduced Tom Greaves before Town could get the game back underway, and the decision nearly paid dividends within three minutes, though Greaves couldn’t find the finishing touch from a yard out.
The visitors were not without chances to win the game in the closing stages as twice Muskwe headed off target, before Basso pulled off an excellent save to deny Shiels’ late header.
In what was almost the final kick of the game, Gilchrist thought he had claimed all three points for the hosts, only to have applied the finish in an offside position.
Harrogate Town: Crook, Platt, Parker, Thanoj, Shiels, Swain, Colbeck, Kerry, Muskwe, Burrell, Leesley
Subs not used: Ellis, Elliott, Rzonca, Chilaka, Turner
Goals: Platt 3, Muskwe 47
FC United of Manchester: Basso, Williams, Chantler (Glynn 91), Brown, Tonge, Baird, Wolfenden (Greaves 75), Sheridan (Lowe 78), Gilchrist, Wright, Thomson
Subs not used: Arnison, Ombougna
Goals: Gilchrist 26, Thomson 75
Referee: P Marsden