Harrogate Railway 0 Garforth 2
Goals from Ward and Simpson enough to see The Miners to a first win in eleven.
It was all change at the back for Rob Hunter's team with centre-forward Lee Turner becoming our latest makeshift centre-back, partnering captain for the day Dan Coupland; the pair giving us some much needed aerial presence. Aodhan Brownlee and Raul Fletcher filled in as full-backs with Sanchez Payne replacing suspended captain James Beaston.
Garforth were quickest off the blocks and Sanchez Payne created our first couple of chances; firing just over the bar on 7 mins before forcing a near post save from Railway keeper Daniel Dekanski. Chances then followed for our neighbours with a Max Thirlwall effort going just wide, before Josh Underwood became the closest so far to an opener from Thirlwall's delivery into the six-yard box which he was inches away from connecting with.
Town had looked the more dangerous of the two sides however and gave themselves the lead on 31 mins. Payne's ball forward caused confusion in the home defence and Daniel Steele's weak header to Dekanski fell to Ward who deftly lifted the ball over the keeper into the empty net for his 12th goal of the season.
Mark Simpson really should've made it two on the stroke of half time when put clear by birthday boy Sean Hunter, but could only fire wide. It was only the half time interval which separated the miss from his 27th of the season however. Seconds after the restart he raced past towering defender Lincoln Adams to roll the ball past Dekanski and into the net.
There were shades of Bridlington away on 54 mins when a Railway attack saw Lawrie charge out of his area and apparently handle the ball to shut out Underwood, but he managed to avoid the fate of teammate Stephen Weatherill and pick up just a yellow card. He redeemed himself from the resulting free-kick; tipping over the bar Jordan Missin's curling strike. Back down the other end there followed Town chances for a third. Aodhan Brownlee saw a shot from the edge of the box saved on 62 mins, Hamilton almost scoring direct from a corner which Dekanski got a hand to divert wide, then the same man putting a low shot just wide of target after making a great run through the heart of the defence.
The hosts brought on assistant manager and former Town midfielder Lee Ryan to try and inspire a fightback to keep alive their slim hopes of Premier Division survival. The closest they came to doing just that was on 76 mins when an Adams header from Michael Thompson's free-kick was cleared off the line by substitute Aiden Kearsley. The final 14 mins were uneventful however, and Rob Hunter's team managed to see out the contest for a pleasing first clean sheet in 16 attempts. A sad day for our neighbours on the other hand, who were playing Evo-Stik League football only two years ago, the last few years proving the NCEL to be an unforgiving arena for former Step 4 sides.
Up next for Town is a visit to last year's capital of culture on Monday where we face Hall Road Rangers (kick-off 7:45pm).