Right back Dwayne Samuels tormented his old club Worcester City on Saturday, as Harrogate Town strode to a 3-1 win against a side likely to be challenging for the play-offs come the end of the season.
Town were playing their first match at the CNG Stadium for two months, the troublesome Wetherby Road pitch finally passed match fit for City’s arrival.
Resembling something of a patchwork quilt after new turf in places, it was a close call once again, the pitch was only deemed playable at 2pm after a referee’s inspection.
But despite the bobbly surface, the hosts looked more than comfortable on it. Boss Simon Weaver selected an attacking side with Paul Beesley, Chib Chilaka, Dominic Knowles and Danny Forrest all named and they were quickly into their stride.
In the opening minutes, left back Dave Merris showed Town’s intent with a probing run deep into City’s territory, winning a corner with which Worcester dealt with adequately.
Samuels and striker Chib Chilaka then combined to set up a shot for Knowles, not the cleanest but City’s Glyn Thompson still had to get down to save it.
There was an early scare for Town when Merris was dispossed by Matt Breeze, but Shane Killock outmuscled the winger to quell the danger.
Winger Danny Forrest worked hard to fire the ball into the centre, Merris dinking it across the box for Chilaka, whose header was just wide, albeit offside.
City were awarded a free kick out wide on the left but Town’s Craig MacGillivray had no difficulty saving Rob Elvins’ shot.
As a somewhat scrappy game progressed, Forrest won a corner for Town.
Merris’s ball reached Adam Bolder, but his grubber kick failed to test Thompson.
Still goalless, it was clear Town were adapting to the gluelike conditions better than their visitors.
Pushing in from the left, Forrest picked out Knowles in the centre.
Knowles’ deft pass back inside was well timed for Paul Beesley to run on to, and his curling sidefooter crept home past Thompson in the 25th minute.
Skipper Alan White gave away a free kick just inside Town’s half, Tom Thorley taking it but Killock nodded away the aerial threat.
A goal behind, City gradually created a spell of genuine pressure and MacGillivray was forced to palm away striker Danny Glover’s shot.
Bolder was booked for the second of two heavy challenges, handing Thorley another free kick.
As Town began to look stretched, they slowed down the passing and worked it back upfield through Forrest.
The winger punted the ball into the box, where Beesley attempted another shot.
But although it was blocked, defender Lee Ayres saw the ball bounce off his shin and fall perfectly into the path of Chilaka, who lashed it home in the 39th minutes.
Three minutes later, right back Dwayne Samuels, punishing his old team then raced down the far wing.
A stunning delivery saw the ball fly into the box where Beesley finished off for a fine goal.
Beesley picked up a knock in the process, and was replaced by Lee Elam for the second half.
City’s Greg Mills took over for striker Michael Taylor.
Town were still comfortably in control in the second stanza.
Chilaka went to ground with an attempt 12 minutes into the half and saw his penalty appeal waved away.
Bolder and Knowles combined well to see Knowles force a diving save out of Thompson.
But City were still in the hunt, midfielder Charlie Reece ensuring MacGillivray had to go to ground to save his attempt, and Breeze and sub Mills also tested the Town defence with long-range efforts.
Town won a free kick in the 64th minute,which Merris fired in from out wide on the left but Nowakowski nodded over the bar.
Still searching for a goal, City opted to replace the pacy Reece with burly forward Mike Symons with less than 30 minutes remaining, but Killock and Samuels had him well shackled.
At the other end, Knowles went agonisingly close to netting his first goal at the CNG with a chance in the 69th minute, the ball rolling just wide.
Ever keen to live dangerously, centre half Alan White - who starts a three match suspension in a week’s time - was booked in the 71st minute for a bad challenge.
Shortly after, Chilaka made way for Michael Woods, in his first game at the CNG.
With 13 minutes remaining, Bolder blasted over the bar despite a excellent build-up play by Knowles and then Forrest.
Woods then broke clear of his tacklers with an open net in front of him, but squared the ball to Knowles whose effort was stifled by Thompson.
Breaking back down the other end, City were unlucky to see Danny Glover’s volley pushed out of danger by MacGillivray.
Town got back upfield where a bad challenge on Elam handed Town a free kick 25 yards out, Bolder directing it comfortably over the bar.
After a classy run from inside his own half, Woods saw his shot blocked by Ayres, before Elam booted a decent shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Town had missed a lot of chances, and it left the door open for City.
In an unfortunate challenge with six minutes left on the clock, Nowakowski gave away a silly free kick 25 yards out.
Thorley chipped into the box, and in the melee, sub Danny Edwards smacked the ball into the net.
City were upping the pressure and Town needed to stay focused, as Glover earned a corner with a deflected shot.
Playing down three minutes of injury time, Symons attempted a shot blocked by Killock but it was too late and Town had the three points in the bag, ending City’s three match unbeaten run in the process.
Harrogate Town: Craig MacGillivray, Dwayne Samuels, Dave Merris, Adam Bolder, Alan White, Shane Killock, Adam Nowakowski, Paul Beesley (Lee Elam HT), Chib Chilaka (Michael Woods 73), Dom Knowles, Danny Forrest; Subs, Paul Bolland, Matt Bloomer, Luke Dean.
Worcester City: Glyn Thompson, Jacob Rowe, Ellis Deeney, Tom Thorley, Stuart Whitehead, Lee Ayres, Charlie Reece (Mike Symon 60), Rob Elvins, Michael Taylor (Greg Mills HT), Danny Glover, Matt Breeze (Danny Edwards); Subs , Tyler Weir, Matt Sargeant.