Town recover from early blow to bag crucial win

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Halifax Town 3

Harrogate Town 1

Goals from former Harrogate Town strikers Danny Holland and James Dean after an equaliser from debutant Aron Wint helped the Shaymen come from behind to beat Harrogate.

And if ever a side needed a win it was Neil Aspin’s after picking up just one point from the previous nine on offer.

The Blue Square Bet North promotion ship needed steadying but it was not all plain sailing as the visitors took the lead midway through the first half having already struck the woodwork.

It would have been a travesty had Harrogate held onto their lead and a quickfire double from Wint and Holland ensured Town went in at the break on top.

Despite enjoying the lion’s share of possession and chances, they had to wait until 15 minutes from the end to finally put the result beyond doubt with Dean’s unstoppable header.

And they can now turn their thoughts towards the small matter of a trip to league leaders Hyde FC next weekend.

Town handed a start to loan signing Wint while Jamie Rainford returned to the squad on the bench.

But it was the visitors who made the brighter start, forcing a second minute corner that Rob Youhill took and Danny Lowe headed clear.

Lowe also got his head to a Paul Heckingbottom long throw, the ball skidding through to Simon Eastwood.

And he was in the thick of the action at the other end after four minutes, curling in a free kick that Liam Hogan got his head to only to see the ball bounce wide of Mark Cook’s goal.

Wint won a corner a minute later, but Simon Garner’s ball in was easily claimed by the Harrogate keeper.

The Shaymen pushed forward again with Wint playing the ball in for Ryan Toulson and he pulled it back for Danny Holland whose shot on the turn flew over.

And moments later James Dean picked out Garner on the left but his well struck effort from the edge of the area went the same way.

There as a moment of real anxiety after 10 minutes when Hogan lost the ball 10 yards from halfway and Laurie Wilson spotted Eastwood off his line.

The Harrogate midfielder floated the ball goalwards and the Town keeper was relieved to see it come back off the bar.

Holland’s flick header from Dean’s ball in after 16 minutes was tipped over the bar and Scott McManus’s cross moments later was put behind for a corner.

But Harrogate were still a threat and Eastwood scrambled well to deny Paul Brayson after the keeper appeared to have been fouled trying to claim Craig Radclffe’s left wing cross.

And the visitors took the lead midway through the first half from a Radcliffe corner on the right that was flicked on at the near post.

Toulson headed the ball off the line only for it to hit Chib Chilaka six yards out and roll gently into the back of the net

The Shaymen responded with a corner of their own, but Hogan’s header back across goal - made under enormous pressure - was cleared.

Dean stooped to head a Toulson long throw, but sent the ball wide of the target, before the Shaymen levelled just before the half hour.

Hogan spread the ball wide for McManus on the left and he beat right back Jake Picton before pulling it back to Wint who fired into the top corner from 10 yards.

Two minutes later they were ahead from another McManus pass, this time Holland was the beneficiary as he slid it under the onrushing keeper.

Town almost surrendered the lead when Toulson was put under pressure by Hogan’s pass and played a square ball straight to Paul Brayson. He was denied by Eastwood and Youhill somehow slid the ball wide.

Wilson had a run on goal within a minute of the restart after latching onto a poor clearance, but fired over from the edge of the area.

Hogan did well moments later to deny Brayson an opportunity as he raced towards the Halifax area.

The closest Town came to adding to their tally in the opening 10 minutes of the second half was from a low Lowe drive from 30 yards, but the visitors’ defence blocked on the edge of their own area.

Dean was getting little from the referee who failed to spot a shirt pull and a push on the big frontman.

Rainford returned to action when he replaced first-half goalscorer Wint with 25 minutes of the game remaining.

And he forced a save from Cook with his first involvement, cutting in from the left and firing in a deflected shot that the keeper just about managed to beat away with both hands.

Moments later he almost got away down the middle, latching onto a loose pass from former Shayman Lee Elam only to be caught on the edge of the Harrogate area.

The substitute continued to look sharp as he latched onto Dean’s 73rd minute flick only to be denied by the outstretched arm of the keeper.

Garner found Rainford whose square pass allowed Holland to fire in a shot that was blocked.

But the Shaymen’s search for a third ended in the 75th minute when McManus got free again on the left and sent over a cross that was missed by Rainford but not by Dean who slammed home from 10 yards out.

That allowed Town to relax for the first time in the game and Jason St Juste almost picked out Rainford with a left wing cross.

Rainford was released by Garner but denied by the keeper and St Juste’s pull back was knocked behind for a corner.

That was pulled back for Garner whose cross was met by Dean whose goalbound header was plucked out of the air by Cook.

There were no further goals but in the grand scheme of things that was not important.

What was, was that Town had snapped a three game winless run and began a run of seven games in March with victory