Harrogate Railway’s preparations for the 2015/16 season were kick-started this week with two pre-season friendlies against high quality opposition at Station View.
Tuesday evening saw Lee Ashforth’s men narrowly lose out to a Hartlepool XI that included a number of first team players, while on Thursday night Middlesbrough U21’s ran out 4-0 winners against a resilient Railway. Both encounters provided good tests for Railway and ensured fitness levels continue to build as Ashforth evaluates his squad in preparation for the upcoming Northern Premier League Division One North campaign.
Tuesday night presented Railway’s management team with a first chance to look at their squad in action against Ronnie Moore’s Hartlepool who named ex-Leeds United striker Billy Paynter as one of the travelling party. Goals from Lewis Hawkins and Scott Fenwick gave the League Two outfit a 2-0 victory with Railway new boys Barry Frankland and Cameron Lynn impressing throughout and coming close to putting the home side on the score-sheet.
Thursday evening provided a tougher challenge for Railway as an accomplished Middlesbrough U21 side arrived at Station View fresh from their double winning campaign last season. The visitors’ superior fitness levels were evident as three of their four goals came within minutes of the referees’ half time and full time whistle. Railway were forced to play for large periods without the ball, which will no doubt be beneficial to fitness levels, and defended resolutely under extended periods of pressure. Railway goalkeeper Tom Goodwin was also on hand to pull off some impressive saves when needed to frustrate the visitors’ forwards on multiple occasions.
Next up for Railway is a trip to Barton Town Old Boys where Harrogate’s squad will continue to gel and acquire more minutes under their belts ahead of the new season.