REPORT: Dronfield's run comes to an end in terrific encounter with Harrogate

Dronfield Town’s five game unbeaten run came to an end but not before they played their part in a super advert for Northern Counties East League football. Two goals in two minutes by visitors Harrogate Railway Athletic late in the second half saw the third placed side take the points after Mark Fereday had given Town a 64th minute lead from the penalty spot. Five games now remain in the 2021-22 season for Dronfield, beginning with their penultimate home match this coming Saturday against Rainworth MW.

The game began at a high tempo for both sides and it was Dronfield who fired an early shot across the bows, Tom Gladwin’s left footed strike just clearing the bar from distance in the seventh minute.

Dronfield’s high pressing game meant they spent long spells in the Harrogate half and on sixteen minutes, some fancy footwork from Mark Fereday saw him create space but he was unable to wrap his foot around the ball and his shot went wide of Joe Wilton’s far post.

A knock saw Town’s Ethan Flower leave the game in the twenty sixth minute to be replaced by the returning Regan Rooke and as Dronfield re-grouped, Kieran Greenway cut in from the left flank, forcing Lewis Naylor to pull off a decent save.

Four minutes from the interval, Gladwin fired narrowly wide from the edge of the area after Sam Terry had done well to keep the ball in play but it was the Rail, who almost opened the scoring.

A defensive mix-up by the home side allowed Joe Crosby to go clean through the middle. Lewis Naylor in the Dronfield goal was alert however and pulled off an outstanding point blank stop.

The second half also began at breakneck pace with both sides forcing spells of pressure that didn’t quite result in concrete chances. It was Dronfield who were to break the deadlock however.

On sixty four minutes, Matty Ord jinked his way into the area from the left hand side and went down under a Harrogate challenge. The referee took a moment but pointed to the spot. Mark Fereday stepped up to take the kick and made no mistake to Wilton’s right with the score at 1-0.

Fereday’s evening came to an end on seventy five minutes when a knock saw him withdrawn for Isaac Knight as Dronfield went with Sam Terry as the solitary striker.

As Dronfield attempted to regroup and maintain their advantage, Harrogate saw their opportunity. On eighty two minutes, pacy substitute Adam Shaw got free down the right, squaring for Crosby to tap home from close range with the score levelled at 1-1.

Buoyed by their equaliser, Harrogate took the lead two minutes later. Substitute Rhys Davies sat the ball up from the right where he found the head of Marcus Day, who nodded back across goal and into the back of the net to make it 2-1.

Day almost made it three on eighty seven minutes when his dipping effort from twenty five yards out was tipped over the bar by Naylor and despite Town throwing the kitchen sink at it in added time, it was Harrogate who held on for the victory.

Dronfield could be rightly proud that they played their part in a game that was a terrific advert for the league but will have a measure of disappointment that they at least didn’t get a point against their loftier opponents.

Dronfield will get another opportunity to display their entertaining brand of football on Saturday when Rainworth MW are the visitors to the HE Barnes Stadium. Admission is free to all as the club look to welcome a large crowd to S18.

Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Stewart, Lester, Wright, Hatton, Gladwin, Flower, Mark Fereday, Terry, Ord. Subs: Furness, Knight, Rooke, Milnes.

Harrogate Railway Athletic: Wilton, Robertson, McDaid, Thirkell, Holmes, Hardcastle, Greenway, Ibrahimi, Crosby, Danby, Youhill. Subs: Davies, Day, Shaw, Shepherd.

Attendance: 78

Photo: Michelle Bell

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