Garforth Town 4-4 Harrogate Railway
Simp-Lee stunning strike saves Town (Report by Samuel Bannister)
A 4-4 draw was the result in a rollercoaster game between Garforth Town and Harrogate Railway.
End to end action, a red card, and a late goal as good as any you’ll see at this level - this game had it all.
The first chance of the game fell to young Railway midfielder Luca Baravelli, who went close with a half volley.
However, Garforth took the lead not long after. Dan Coupland passed to Mitch Hamilton, whose great ball across the box was tapped in by Mark Simpson.
There was a chance each for the latter two players, with Hamilton’s long shot parried by ex-Town keeper Chris Senior, and Simpson’s clever low free kick somehow staying out after hitting the post and swerving across the face of goal.
On 33 minutes Railway found a way back into the game, as captain Lincoln Adams headed home from a corner.
Less than 200 seconds later though and Town were in front again, as Lee Turner’s great header in the middle of the park found Simpson, who slotted home for his second goal.
Turner had a good chance as he brought down a Pete Lawrie goal kick, cut inside and shot, but Senior saved his attempt.
Three minutes after the restart Garforth were 3-1 up. This time it was Coupland with a rare goal, as he hit the ball with his left foot across goal, and it went in via the post.
Then came a game changing moment. Lawrie rushed out of his goal to make a challenge, but it was misjudged, and he was sent off. Aiden Kearsley volunteered to go in goal and Sean Hunter filled in at left back in a Garforth reshuffle.
On 57 minutes Harrogate got a goal back through Shane Hamilton who smashed home from inside the box.
Over the next ten minutes or so stand-in goalie Kearsley was called into action a few times, and did well given he is not a natural keeper. He claimed a square pass in the box down low and made a great save with his left hand to push a shot behind for a corner.
Town had their backs to the wall but were hanging on thanks to some resilient defending. Coupland made an important clearance, for example.
That same player was involved further up the field again, as he was brought down in the box. There were claims for a penalty but the referee wasn’t interested; Coupland got up straight away to have a shot which missed.
On 79 minutes Harrogate equalised, again through a set piece. It wasn’t clear how the ball went across the line, but it looks like it could have been an own goal. At 3-3, the last ten minutes of the game could have gone anywhere.
Straight away Simpson had a decent effort with a volley, but missed. Then in a matter of seconds Railway took the lead for the first time in the game. A corner was headed in at the far post by Elliott Williams.
End to end stuff it was, with Turner’s cross nearly being met by Coupland shortly after the goal. Turner was becoming a bit of a driving force for Town in these stages and it was clear he wanted something out of the game.
And it was a moment of special quality from said player that earned Garforth the point. Picking up the ball out wide about 40 yards out, the forward noticed Senior off his line, before pulling off a piece of extraordinary technique. Hit with the outside of his foot, the ball curled in to the top corner to send the Garforth bench wild. 4-4.
In stoppage time Kearsley made another good save to deny Railway, and to ensure Garforth kept hold of the point. Given the circumstances, with Town playing over 40 minutes without their keeper, it was a deserved point, although Garforth will have felt they could have got three points with a full complement of players. In the end they had to settle with one, but they should be proud given that they didn’t crumble under relentless Railway pressure in the second half. The main plaudits though must go to Turner who, alongside a great performance, has set the pace for the goal of the season with his remarkable effort.
By Samuel Bannister