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Harrogate Town 3-3 Salford City

by Hal Boxhall-Dockree
08 April 2017

Harrogate Town 3-3 Salford

 

Simon Ainge claimed a hat-trick in the final ten minutes as Town recovered from twice being two goals down to rescue a late point against promotion chasing Salford.

 

The visitors were awarded the first of the afternoon's four spot kicks after 20 minutes, which Sam Walker converted, before a John Johnston screamer made it 2-0 after the hour mark.

Salford looked on the way to a comfortable win, before a crazy final few minutes unfolded; beginning with Ainge converting from the spot with seven minutes of normal time remaining after a foul on Warren Burrell.

The gap was soon back to two though, as Nick Haughton dinked over Chris Elliott on the counter attack seconds after the visitors had seen their lead halved.

Referee Will Finnie then pointed to the spot for a third time when Lewis Turner was brought to ground, and though Ainge's initial kick was saved, Town's top scorer converted the rebound.

Deep into stoppage time the man in the middle pointed to the spot for a final time after JP Pittman's low cross was handled; and Ainge stepped up to complete his hat-trick and rescue his side a point!

Simon Weaver had made four changes from last weekend’s trip to Tamworth, and handed a first start to on-loan centre back James King.

Liam Agnew and Joe Leesley both tried their luck in the opening ten minutes, but neither could find the target with long range efforts.

The visitors were then given the opportunity to take the lead from the spot 20 minutes in, as Chris Elliott brought down Mike Phenix inside the box.

Elliott almost made amends; getting close to the resulting spot kick, but Walker’s strike was buried into the corner.

The lively Leesley then went close to pulling his side level; collecting Michael Nottingham’s clearance and firing wide of the bottom corner.

With ten minutes to go until the break, Elliott prevented Salford’s lead being increased as Town’s stopper kept out Jordan Hulme’s effort at full stretch.

The Ammies started the second half well, and almost doubled their advantage early on as a fine flowing move ended in Johnston shooting just over the bar.

Town’s woodwork was then rattled as Nottingham met an in-swinging free kick with a header that clipped the top of the bar.

With 20 minutes remaining, Town applied pressure to the Salford defence with a number of corners in quick succession, but the visiting defence held firm and refused to give up any clear chances.

Johnston then cemented the visitors advantage with an excellent solo effort; the winger dribbled from left to right before unleashing a rocket past Elliott and in off the bar.

Town almost gave themselves a foothold for a comeback with ten minutes to go as Leesley’s cross looked to be flicked by Tom Platt, but bounced back off the woodwork.

Salford suddenly looked uncomfortable, and handed Town a lifeline when bringing Warren Burrell down inside the area, allowing Ainge to step up and send the ‘keeper the wrong way from the spot.

Within seconds of reducing the deficit, Town again found themselves two goals down as substitute Haughton engineered some space on the counter attack and dinked over the advancing Elliott.

Again it looked like game over, only for Referee Will Finnie to point to the spot for a third time as Lewis Turner was felled.

Ainge again stepped up and, though his initial attempt was kept out by Jay Lynch, reduced the gap to just one goal by converting the rebound.

With just seconds remaining of added time, Town were awarded a third penalty as JP Pittman’s low cross was handled, allowing Ainge to step up for a third time and rescue a point!

Harrogate Town: Elliott, Turner, King (Platt 45), Ellis, Parker, Agnew, Emmett (Colbeck 71), Burrell, Leesley, Ainge, Day (Pittman 64)

Subs not used: Lees, Crook

Goals: Ainge 84 (p), 87, 93 (p)

Booked: Ainge

Salford: Lynch, Nottingham, O’Halloran, Burton, Grand, Priestley, Johnston (Hine 79), Walker, Phenix (Haughton 56), Hulme, King (Poole 74)

Subs not used: Norris, Panayiotou

Goals: Walker 20(p), Johnston 63, Haughton 85

Booked: O’Halloran, Hulme

Referee: W Finnie

Attendance: 1,049