Football: Harrogate Town 2-2 AFC Telford United

hsb   Adam Nowakowski playing for Harrogate Town   (131226M3c)

hsb Adam Nowakowski playing for Harrogate Town (131226M3c)

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Harrogate Town twice surrendered the lead as they held table topping AFC Telford 2-2 at the CNG Stadium.

Dave Merris swept in Town’s opener in first-half injury-time before the home side missed several chances to double the lead.

Telford defender Mike Grogan made them pay as he benefitted from sloppy defending to equalise at a corner.

Shane Killock’s header put Town ahead again but the visitors hit back immediately when Tony Gray slid past Town stopper Craig MacGillivray.

Manager Simon Weaver had been left with limited options as he looked to end ninth-placed Town’s three-match losing streak.

With Leigh Franks, Ashley Worsfold, Michael Woods, Adam Bolder and Dom Rowe all sidelined, new signing Matt Heath was thrown straight into action alongside Shane Killock at the back.

Exciting Sheffield United loanee Jahmal Smith also took residence on the bench.

Steve Mallory set the tone with a strike from distance that visiting ‘keeper Ryan Young had no problem scooping up.

United could have opened the scoring on 15 minutes when Andy Owens broke free, but his left-footed shot squirted wide.

Owens then found space again just inside the Town box and MacGillivray palmed his shot wide.

Chris Hall and Mallory both had chances for Town before Cleveland Taylor skewed hopelessly wide when clear.

The home side eventually took the lead in first-half added-time. Left-back Merris smacked in a low effort after a corner was only half-cleared.

Town should have doubled their lead after the restart but Anton Brown hideously fired over having been perfectly put through by Mallory.

Heath then headed a corner down and wide before Taylor’s long range shot was also off target.

The Yellow and Blacks were made to pay for their wastefulness on 70 minutes when Telford scrappily found an equaliser from a corner, Grogan turning past MacGillivray’s despairing dive.

Hall then sent a shot inches wide before Adam Nowakowski rescued his ‘keeper, sticking his right leg out to clear off his own goalline.

Another set-piece heralded the game’s third goal. Mallory’s sweetly taken free-kick was nodded in by Killock.

But within a minute, Telford were back level. A deep free-kick was knocked-down into Gray’s path and the substitute prodded home.

Matty McGinn’s fierce free-kick then produced a superb one-handed stop from MacGillivray before Town left empty-handed from a goalmouth scramble in the Telford six-yard box.

Substitute Smith could have made an instant impression on debut as he held off a challenge to burst through late on. But his shot went straight at the onrushing Young.

The single point leaves Town ninth in Skrill North, seven points off the play-off places.

Town chief Weaver said: “I was very pleased with the performance. We kept on going and we put everything into it.

“We deserved the three points because of the pressure that we had and the chances we created.

“Then again we have to be more ruthless in the final third.

“With all the injuries it’s not a bad point against first in the league and it gives us confidence that we can go big and strong as well as play pretty football.”

Meanwhile, Harrogate Railway slipped to a 2-1 defeat at Lancaster City in Evo-Stik First Division North.

Tadcaster Albion suffered a 5-3 defeat at in-form NCEL Premier side Basford United. Mitch Hamilton scored twice for Albion as Paul Marshall’s men had goalkeeper Leon Wrigglesworth sent off.

Knaresborough Town drew 2-2 with Shirebrook Town at Manse Lane.

Read Thursday’s Harrogate Advertiser for a full match report on Harrogate Town’s draw against AFC Telford, comments and analysis.