Spennymoor Town 1 Harrogate Railway 1
Harrogate Railway produced an impressive performance on Tuesday night to gain a deserved point at Spennymoor Town.
After a defensively solid first half showing had frustrated the hosts, Lee Ashforth’s side got onto the front foot and took the lead through Dan Thirkell.
Spennymoor stepped up a gear after going behind, however, and found an equaliser with ten minutes to play through substitute Liam Henderson to deny Railway all three points.
Lee Ashforth made three changes from his first competitive game in charge of Harrogate, replacing Vincent Dhesi, Stephen Bromley and Cameron Lyn with Jordan Outerbridge, Roy Fogarty and Charlie Clamp.
Spennymoor manager Jason Ainsley, meanwhile, was forced to start with ten men as goalkeeper Daniel Lowson arrived late to the ground after getting stuck in traffic on the A1.
Joe Tait pulled on a pair of gloves for the opening four minutes but was swiftly replaced by Lowton whose first action was to watch Jack Stockdill’s ambitious lob sail over the crossbar.
It was Tom Goodwin who had to make the first save of the match, however, reacting sharply to tip over Alex Low’s misdirected clearance.
Gavin Cogdon had taken the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening 20 minutes, running the game from midfield and shooting narrowly wide on two occasions.
Spennymoor’s full-backs were determined to get at Railway, with Chris Mason firing over from 30 yards and Kallum Griffiths weighting his pass a fraction too heavy for Robert Briggs to latch on to.
The majority of Spennymoor’s efforts were coming from distance, although Low had another nervy moment before the half hour mark, dangling a leg and deflecting a cross dangerously close to Goodwin’s bottom right corner.
Having weathered the early pressure, with the aid of some crunching tackles from Stockdill and Simon Parkes, Harrogate grew into the game as Clamp saw attempts on goal blocked by Spennymoor’s defence and saved by Lowton.
Railway started the second half on the front foot with Stockdill bombing forward and seeing his powerful strike beaten away at the near post.
As Ashforth’s side pushed forward, another blocked Clamp attempt resulted in Thirkell heading wide from a corner, which was a sign of things to come.
After attempts to break the deadlock at either end from Briggs and Ryan Sharrocks, Thirkell put Railway ahead just shy of the hour mark.
Harrogate’s captain took advantage of Spennymoor’s inability to clear Lawrance Hunter’s corner, blasting into the back of the net as the ball fell to his feet inside the area.
Spennymoor made multiple changes after going behind and forced Goodwin into another incredible save with 15 minutes to go as the Railway stopper turned Glen Taylor’s shot over his crossbar at full stretch.
Cogden had again gone close for the hosts who finally found an equaliser with ten minutes left of the game.
Under pressure from Henderson, Goodwin could only make a slight contact with Griffiths’ right wing cross and was unable to prevent the substitute stroking into an empty net as the ball landed at the striker’s feet just four minutes after entering the action.
Lyn was introduced by Ashforth after the leveller and almost made an immediate impact running directly at the Spennymoor defence, although the winger’s fierce drive was stopped low to Lowson’s left before it could nestle into the far corner.
Both sides went all out for maximum points in a frantic final five minutes with Henderson going close to doubling his tally with a swirling 30 yard effort and James Risbrough shooting wide from the edge of Railway’s 18 yard box.
At the opposite end, Lyn counter attacked at speed before cutting in from the left on his right foot and lashing a strike off target, and the contest finished all-square.
Harrogate Railway are on their travels again this weekend as they make the trip to Brighouse Town on Saturday looking to continue their positive start to the season.
Harrogate Railway: Goodwin, Parkes, Hunter, Mycoe, Thirkell, Low, Sharrocks, Stockdill, Fogarty (Bromley 57), Clamp, Outerbridge (Lyn 80)
Subs not used: Dhesi, Ibrahimi, Wood
Goals: Thirkell 59
Booked: Outerbridge 72, Stockdill 90+3
Spennymoor Town: Lowson, Griffiths, Mason, Dodds, Tait, Johnson (Fisher 65), Briggs (Risbrough 69), Henry, Taylor (Henderson 76), Cogdon, Hoganson
Subs not used: Robinson, Copper
Goals: Henderson 80
Booked: Briggs 51, Tait 90, Dodds 90+2
Referee: H. Byrne
Words: Hal Boxhall-Dockree