Harrogate Town 4-3 Alfreton Town

FT: Harrogate Town 4    3 Alfreton Town

20 February 2018

Alfreton Town came within a hair's breadth of pulling off a sensational comeback after finding themselves four goals adrift inside the opening 34 minutes of their National League North encounter on Harrogate Town's artificial pitch.

An eighth minute chance had been squandered by the Reds when Chris Sharp was offered a clear opportunity to score from a Cieron Keane cross, but Harrogate took full advantage of a defensive mix-up to take an 18th minute lead when Dominic Knowles slotted home the loose ball.

On the half-hour mark Swedish keeper Viktor Johansson, drafted in on loan from Aston Villa with regular custodian Chris Elliott suffering a broken nose in the previous game, made his only serious error of the game by spilling George Thomson's free-kick with John McCombe on hand to sweep home the rebound.

Mark Beck made the score 3-0 on 33 minutes with a glancing header from a left-wing corner, then moments after the restart the same player took advantage of a Luke Shiels slip on the unfamiliar surface to rattle home the fourth goal.

Stunned into action the Reds created their most promising spell of football to date and were rewarded five minutes before the break when Sharp finished a deep Tom Allan pass with aplomb after initially controlling the ball.

HT: Harrogate Town 4    1 Alfreton Town

There was a much changed shape to Alfreton's demeanour after the break, with American defender Ned Wagner becoming the second overseas debutant on the night when he replaced the injured Lee Beevers before making a solid contribution.

Johansson went on to make a superb save from Jack Emmett before confidently fielding a Joe Leesley free-kick, but the third new player Nyal Bell, on loan from Gateshead, was the one who really inspired the supporters.

His brace of quality headers within 14 minutes of participation brought the score to 4-3, the first from another deep Allan cross on 65 minutes and latterly from a Brendon Daniels free-kick just two minutes later.

Daniels whipped in another free-kick on 83 minutes, but with Bell, Allan and Tom Platt all lining up at the back post none of them could make the necessary contact.

The Reds went desperately close to achieving the seemingly impossible when home keeper James Belshaw scooped James Baxendale's back post effort from a Daniels cross virtually off the line with four minutes remaining.

Alfreton Town Team:

Johansson; Wood, Shiels, Beevers [Wagner 50], Allan, Keane, Platt, Baxendale, Daniels, Marshall, Sharp [Bell 53].

Other subs: Westcarr, Everington, Jennings

Harrogate Town Team:

Belshaw; Burrell, Swain, Falkingham, Kitching, McCombe, Thomson, Emmett, Beck, Knowles [Thewlis 69], Leesley [Agnew 69].

Other subs; Middleton, Cracknell, Ainge.

Attendance: 688

Man of the Match: Nyal Bell

Referee: Garreth Rhodes Match Reports

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