Harrogate Town made their much-anticipated, historic bow in the Vanarama National League with a 2-2 draw against last year’s playoff semi-finalists Sutton United.
After coming from behind, goals from Jack Muldoon and substitute Kelvin Langmead were matched by Sutton 's Charlie Clough and a late penalty from Jamie Collins to leave Town with a point.
Harrogate started life in the National League where they left off in National League North, looking to pass the ball around quickly and create good build up play to feed the inform Dom Knowles.
The first half chance of the game fell to last year’s national league semi-finalists in the fifth minute as Nick
Bailey swong in a dangerous ball towards Ross Lafayette, but the combination of Callum Howe and Muldoon were able to clear the ball
Moments later it was time For Town’s first chance, as Ryan fallowfield whipped in a dangerous cross which found Aaron Williams but unfortunately, he couldn’t get it past Sutton stopper Jamie Butler who tipped it onto the post.
Despite being the new boys in the league, Town were playing some lovely passing play in the first 15 minutes. George Thomson, Jack Emmett and Josh Falkingham all combining to give the Harrogate strike force several half chances that couldn’t be converted.
Town continued to knock on the door to find what would be there first goal in the National League, coming up to the half hour mark Thomson whipped a free kick into a crowded penalty area, which found Knowles in the box, but he could only guide it towards the outside of woodwork.
The next chance for Town came in the 35th from an unlikely source, Liam Kitching went on a lovely weaving run, leaving two Sutton players behind before hitting a shot at goal, but U’s keeper Butler saved well.
Harrogate would go on to regret there missed chances as, in the 39th minute, Aswad Thomas delivered a dangerous freekick into the box which found the rising Charlie Clough to put the visitors 1-0 up with a bullet header against the run of play; Sutton's first real chance of the game.
After the goal Sutton really sprang into life, Lafayette and Taylor both worked very good shooting opportunities but couldn’t double their lead.
The real chance of the second half came in the 54th minute courtesy of Sutton united as Harry Beautyman looked to be in on goal after a lofted freekick found him in space, but Burrell was aware to make a last-ditch tackle to deny the Sutton forward.
Just like Harrogate in the first half Sutton would go on to regret there missed chances.
In the 60th minute after a succession of corners and a powerful drive from Thomson, Muldoon found himself in the box with a simple tap in; his first competitive goal for Town and Harrogate’s first ever goal at this level.
As the second half went on both Town and the U’s were struggling to test the opposing keepers Thomson was very lively for Town, finding Knowles and Howe on separate occasions due to some good play but unfortunately no significant chances could be created.
In the final ten minutes it would be Town who would break the deadlock when, after a goal mouth scramble, substitute Langmead found himself picking up a lose ball in the opposition box and then placed it in the bottom corner.
Despite the jubilation of the goal, it seemed like the dream start in the National League for Harrogate Town just wasn’t meant to be.
Three minutes into the five minutes of added time Sutton won a penalty after the linesman spotted a handball in the box.
Sutton’s Collins then stepped up and squeezed the spot kick past a fully extended Belshaw to make it two apiece and make sure that Sutton left The CNG Stadium with at least a point.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Fallowfield (Langmead 61), Kitching, Falkingham, Howe, Burrrell, Thomson, Emmett, Williams, Knowles, Muldoon (Leesley 74)
Subs not used: Cracknall, Agnew, Kerry
Goals: Muldoon 60, Langmead 85
Booked: Kitching, Muldoon, Williams
Sutton United: Butler, Bennett (Drinan 74), Thomas, Clough, Collins, Bolarinwa, Lafayette (Wright 74), Eastmond, Bailey, Beautyman, Taylor (Wishart 86)
Subs not used: Beckwith, Davis,
Goals: Clough 35, Collins 93
Booked: Lafayette, Beautyman
Referee: Simon Mather
Match Report by Isaac Martin