A Josh March penalty after 25 minutes was enough to earn a deserved 1-0 win against Carlisle United on Tuesday 16th February at the Envirovent Stadium.
Town were good value for the lead in an impressive first-half showing and delivered a composed performance after the break to withstand the threat of the visitors to record their third home win of the season.
As expected, Town made just one change to the side with Jake Lawlor replacing the suspended Will Smith. With Josh Andrews an injury precaution Mark Beck made a welcome return to the bench.
Carlisle opted to leave top scorer Jon Mellish, with seven goals to his name for the season, on the bench for what was only their fourth fixture of 2021 following a string of postponements since the turn of the year.
It was third time lucky in staging the game with the two previous attempts falling foul of the weather and then a local power and there were some nervy moments in the build up to kick-off following a heavy downpour.
Thankfully the game got under way without any real problems and it was Carlisle who made the brighter start with their power and direct style with Josh Kayode’s long throw ability testing the Town backline.
And the visitors created the first real opening of the half when a scuffed clearance from James Belshaw fell straight to Lewis Alessandra but his chip from the edge of the area was a little too ambitious and sailed well over the bar.
Town immediately found the gear in response and Josh McPake seized on a loose ball to thunder a shot that grazed the outside of the post with Paul Farman well beaten.
The home side further pressed on 25 minutes when a whipped cross from March teased across the six yard box and was scrambled clear with a posse of Town attackers ready to pounce.
Minutes later though Town were ahead. McPake robbed the Carlisle defence to set up March who was clumsily
bundled over in the area by Nick Anderton. March picked himself to dispatch the penalty in authoritative fashion past Farman for his fourth goal of the season.
Town almost extended their lead before the half when Simon Power profited from another Carlisle defensive lapse but Farman was equal to the task to turn the ball away for a corner.
Early in the second Belshaw had to be at full stretch to maintain the lead and deny Brennan Dickenson but Town hit back, firstly through a threatening run from McPake and then a two on two breakaway where March couldn’t quite seize the opportunity.
The visitors slowly began to assert themselves though and had the Town defenced penned deep in their half. Manager Chris Beech made four substitutions in a ten minute spell in attempt to turn around the game, with Simon Weaver replacing goalscorer March with Beck and a switch at the back with Lawlor taking the place of Ed Francis.
Despite Carlisle’s endeavour it was Town who were creating the better opportunities and Farman again had to be alert to deny an on-rushing Aaron Martin.
The final minutes saw the visitors throw everything forward but Town maintained their discipline and held firm to seal the victory that see them move up in to the top half of the table.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Burrell, Francis (Lawlor, 76), Smith, Hall, Falkingham (Kerry, 84), Thomson, Power, McPake, Martin, March (Beck, 72)
Subs not used: Minter, Kiernan, Muldoon.
Booked: Francis (65)
Goal: March (28)
Carlisle United: Farman, Tanner, Anderton (Patrick, 75), Hayden, Riley (Mellish, 75), Guy, Alessandra (Zanzala, 57), Kayode, Dickenson, Bennett, Walker (Toure, 64).
Subs not used: Norman, McDonald, Armer.
Booked: Tanner (76)
Referee: Sebastian Stocksbridge,