Harrogate Town thump strong Leeds United XI

Harrogate Town shocked Championship play-off hopefuls Leeds United 3-1 in front of more than 1,000 spectators at the CNG Stadium on Wednesday night.

Three second-half strikes gave Town victory against a strong United XI in the quickly arranged mid-season friendly.

Harrogate Town v Leeds United. Town's Craig Nelthorpe opens the scoring. 8th January 2014. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Harrogate Town v Leeds United. Town's Craig Nelthorpe opens the scoring. 8th January 2014. Picture : Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Craig Nelthorpe’s curling effort broke the deadlock before Connor Sellars’ free-kick and triallist Nathan Cartman’s cool finish sealed a famous win.

Dom Poleon grabbed a late consolation goal for the under-par Whites when his shot trickled into the corner.

The defeat will have done little to improve United boss Brian McDermott’s mood after his side exited the FA Cup on Saturday at the hands of Rochdale.

But Town boss Simon Weaver was overjoyed as his side added United to their list of high profile scalps this campaign, after beating Blackburn Rovers and Bradford City in pre-season.

He said: “There was a buzz about it. Tonight was as good a night as we have had all season.

“I was delighted for our players. To play to that level, and utilising the full 21 players, we put a really honest shift.

“Everyone looked sharp and we have to take that performance on to Saturday’s game against Stalybridge Celtic.”

Heavy rain made for difficult conditions throughout the clash, and Nelthorpe instantly tested Leeds goalkeeper Alex Cairns with a driven daisy-cutter from 25 yards.

Full-back Dwayne Samuels then gave Town fans a worry as he limped off and was replaced by Matt Bloomer.

Steve Mallory had a header cleared off the line before another effort from the versatile midfielder made Cairns react well at his near post.

Poleon provided United’s brightest spark and twice missed snap-shots after showing neat footwork in dangerous areas.

Stephen Warnock also saw a free-kick sail wide as the visitors failed to seriously test Town shot-stopper Craig MacGillivray.

Town target-man Chris Hall then failed to break the deadlock on the stroke of half-time as his control let him down when advancing on goal.

Hall was replaced Cartman at half-time and the Harrogate Railway forward looked sharp up top.

And the diminutive striker set up the opening goal, as he broke into the Leeds half and laid a pass into Nelthorpe’s path. The midfielder bent his shot beautifully round Cairns, who got a almost kept it out but the ball trickled across the line.

Sellars doubled the lead on 76 minutes when his free-kick dipped over the wall to bulge the net.

Replacement Town ‘keeper Peter Crook then pulled off a fabulous double-save against Poleon and Harrogate-born teenager Lewis Walters.

Town went up the other end to extend their lead further as Cartman found space to coolly drill past Cairns with little under 10 minutes to go.

Poleon got his reward for a fine individual display as he fired a late consolation into the corner, moments after Town captain Shane Killock cleared a shot off the line.

But the goal was too little too late for the Whites, as Town celebrated victory.

And Weaver selected Killock, Adam Nowakowski and Cartman for specific praise.

“We looked really strong in midfield and very dangerous from set-pieces,” he added.

“Shane put in a real shift for 90 minutes.

“Adam (Nowakowski) stood out in the first half with his guile on the ball and Nathan Cartman looked like he had a real football brain on him.

“Even though it wasn’t for point, it was important we put a performance in tonight. We have shown we can play football.”

Attendance: 1354

Read Ed White’s live blog as it happened updates by clicking the following link: Harrogate Town v Leeds United: Live