Town returned to winning ways on the first home fixture of December, holding off a late fightback to earn a vital 2-1 victory against Torquay United.
Goals in either half from Alex Bradley and Jon Stead were enough to take the points despite a late scare following a Jamie Reid penalty and maintain their hold on a playoff spot.
Coming into the game just three points ahead of their opponents, Town seized the early initiative with Mitch Hancox’s powerful drive being deflected wide before Bradley’s goal put them ahead, cutting inside before poking the ball past Lucas Covolan in the visitors goal, with the help of a deflection.
Simon Weaver changed things up following last Saturday’s defeat at Sutton, making three changes. Lloyd Kerry made a welcome return to the line-up after a long lay-off, with Bradley and Brendan Kiernan also coming into the side. Ryan Fallowfield was unavailable through illness with Jack Diamond and Jack Emmett dropping down to the bench.
Chances were at a premium though throughout the first half, Stead had the best opportunity for Town, controlling well from Kiernan’s overhead kick but his shot was well blocked by the visitors defence.
Looking to press home their advantage Town almost doubled their lead in the opening seconds of the second half when Jack Muldoon shot powerfully with Covolan keeping the ball out at the second attempt.
With confidence low after four successive league defeats, Torquay were struggling to cope with a livelier Town side and Stead forced a smart save from Covolan after good work from Bradley and George Thomson.
Stead was not to be denied however and having broken free from his marker coolly slotted home from Hancox’s low cross after 56 minutes.
Town sensed there more goals and Josh Falkingham’s shot from the edge of the area went narrowly wide, prompting the visitors to shake things up on the hour with a triple substitution, with Ruari McNulty, Jarred Lewington and Jean-Yves Koue Niate replacing Kalala, Robbie Cundy and Amrit Bansal-McNulty.
The change paid off when Bradley was penalised on 68 minutes. Reid hit home convincingly for his 15th goal of the season to set up a potential nervy finish for the home side.
Ben Whitfield had Town fans hearts in their mouths when he dragged wide with just under five minutes left but their composed performance brought a deserved eighth home win of the season.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, W.Smith, Hall, Hancox, Bradley, Falkingham (c), Kerry, Thomson, Kiernan (Emmett, 74), Stead, Muldoon (Diamond, 80)
Subs not used: Brown, Cracknell, G. Smith.
Goals: Bradley (10), Stead (56)
Torquay: Covolan, Wynter, Cameron, Lewis, Andrews, Lemonheigh-Evans, Reid, Kalala (Keating, 60) Bansal-McNulty (Koue Nate, 60), Cundy (Lewington 62), Whitfield.
Subs not used: MacDonald, Buse
Goals: Reid (68, pen)
Referee: James Bell.
Report by Danny Pugsley