Harrogate Town stun Torquay 1-0 in FA Cup

Harrogate Town's Chib Chilaka who scored the winning goal against Torquay.  (1208211AM10)
Harrogate Town's Chib Chilaka who scored the winning goal against Torquay. (1208211AM10)

Harrogate Town stunned Torquay United to reach the second round of the FA Cup.

A first-half Chib Chilaka strike secured the historic win for a hugely impressive Town against League Two opposition, and they go into the hat for the next round, to be played on the weekend of December 1.

It was a day Harrogate Town players, staff and fans will never forget.

And Chilaka had the chance to make the double his tally, tantalisingly shooting just over the bar after 72 minutes.

The result is remarkable for Town, who sit 14th in the Blue Square North, having only qualified for the first round proper after 120 minutes against Hyde FC on Wednesday night at Harrogate Rail ground Station View.

Town boss Simon Weaver made just one change from the side that overcame Hyde FC, Adam Nowakowski making way for Tom Platt.

And there were no signs in the early stages to suggest Town were suffering from their efforts on Wednesday night.

Instead, an organised Town outfit set about snuffing out the danger and dealing with the superior possession they knew their NPower League Two opponents would enjoy.

The opening goal came as Town were enjoying a good spell of pressure, and it silenced the home fans.

Torquay defender Kevin Nicholson slipped as he attempted to clear the ball, and Chilaka was on hand to take it into the box, and gave himself time to pull the trigger.

The ball bounced off the left-hand post, and across the line to a euphoric response from the travelling support.

The goal galvanised Town, who grew in confidence, with Paul Beesley, Luke Dean and Platt spreading the ball around outside the box, testing the ‘Gulls defence.

However, the home side remained a constant threat, threading the ball through to utility man Nathan Craig.

Daniel Leadbitter’s right-wing runs offered the Gulls a way into the box, but a well-drilled ‘Town were in no mood to surrender their lead.

Home favourite Billy Bodin went close for the Gulls as half-time approached, but Town showed they were more than up to the task, leading 1-0 at the break.

Torquay had the best of the opening stages of the second half.

Town had to be alert and the home fans thought they had equalised as top scorer Rene Howe buried a 54th minute shot in the back of the net.

However, he was offside and the goal was disallowed.

Weaver replaced Danny Forrest with Wednesday night goal hero Dan Clayton, in a bid to stay on top.

Torquay boss Martin Ling also brought on fresh legs, however, in the form of Ryan Jarvis and Niall Thompson.

The game was finely poised after the substitutions, with neither side able to make progress towards goal through the driving rain soaking the English Riviera.

That was until Chilaka came incredibly close to making it 2-0, his shot flying inches high of the bar.

Town ‘keeper McGillivray soon had to call on all his experience and skill as Torquay peppered the box, searching for the goal their agitated fans, unused to finding themselves losing at home, craved.

But Town were more than a match for a side occupying a promotion spot in League Two.

Led by captain Alan White, the Town defence dealt with Torquay’s set pieces and substitute Ryan Jarvis’ impact on the Gulls attack.

An 89th minute Torquay free-kick was floated in and expertly headed away by Shane Killock.

Town defended staunchly through the three minutes of injury time to make history.

Harrogate Town: McGillivray, Samuels, Merris, Bolder, White, Killock, Dean, Platt, Chilaka, Beesley (Allan, 72), Forrest (Clayton, 57).

Subs not used: Nowakowski, Bloomer, Hardy, Da Veiga, Bolland.

Torquay United: Poke, Nicholson (Yeoman, 79), Downes, Saah, Lathrope, Mansell, How, Leadbitter, Bodin (Jarvis, 60), Stevens (Thompson, 60), Craig.

Subs not used: Oastler, Rice, Easton, Cruise.

Attendance: 1817

Referee: Wayne Barratt