A late Shaun Williams strike proved to be the difference as Simon Weaver and his Harrogate Town side were narrowly defeated in this afternoon's trip to Gillingham.
While it took all of 94 minutes for the deadlock to be broken, a late scramble in the Town box proved pivotal with the Gillingham captain bundling home to secure all three points for his side.
With winger Sam Folarin requiring a lengthy spell of treatment, referee Neil Hair added 13 minutes of additional time at the end of the second half which Gillingham used to their advantage.
Clearly pleased by his side’s performance in mid-week, Town boss Simon Weaver elected for consistency in his eleven with nine of the starters keeping their place for the trip South.
Luke Armstrong returned to start for Town after a deadline day move to Wrexham fell through. Elsewhere, Kayne Ramsay was handed a start in place of Toby Sims and midfielder Levi Sutton was fit enough to return to the bench.
Three minutes were on the clock before Gillingham registered the first attempt of the match. Former Wales internationalist Jonny Williams looked to try his luck from distance. As a loose ball fell nicely around 25 yards from goal but the effort took a deflection and Town were able to clear their lines.
With both sides looking to adapt to the challenging conditions, it would be over 10 minutes later before the next serious chance would present itself. A pacy low cross from the Gillingham left found the head of Lapslie but he was unable to direct it goalwards.
Gillingham keen to crank up the pressure on the Town line found another opportunity shy of 20 minutes. A well worked passing move found Malone with space to shoot. However, a block from Kayne Ramsay sent it wide.
With temperatures reaching 32 degrees this afternoon, referee Neil Hair rightly gave the players an opportunity to take on fluids midway through both halves.
However, prior to this stoppage, some neat build up play created a fantastic crossing opportunity for Kayne Ramsay but an overhit cross allowed the danger to pass.
After the break, Town continued to grow into the game. A fantastic cross field pass was plucked out the sky by George Thomson. However, the resulting cutback doesn’t find anyone in the black of Town.
Despite the optimism, club captain Josh Falkingham was forced off the field following a tackle from Williams which the former Welsh international received the only yellow card of the half for. He was replaced by Levi Sutton and the first 45 ended without the deadlock being broken.
Town started the second half with the intent they ended the first with. Quick feet and a clever nutmeg from Odoh found Armstrong in the area and with his back to goal laid off Thomson but Town’s number 7 produced low side-footed effort which was held by the ‘keeper.
Gillingham quickly regained composure but on 60 minutes Town found luck once again on the right-hand side. A pin-point pass from George Thomson released the onrushing Folarin. However, his low cross evades the on-rushing Armstrong and the home side clear.
Three cautions in five minutes saw Kayne Ramsay booked for Town and he was joined by Williams & Masterson for the hosts.
After a lengthy stoppage to play, Town’s number 12 Sam Folarin was forced to depart the field in a stretcher and he was replaced by Jeremy Sivi for his league debut.
It was almost an instant impact for the Middlesborough loanee, a clever run from Town’s number 19 was spotted by Odoh but his pass was over cooked and Gillingham regained possession.
However, in the fourth minute of extra time, Gillingham got that all important goal to secure the three points. A corner swung into the Town box was met by Oxley but he was unable to get to safety and after a number of blocks club captain Shaun Williams got the ball across the line.
Simon Weaver’s side will look to get back to winning ways next weekend as we head to Bradford City for the Yorkshire Derby.