Brakes 1 Harrogate Town 3: New Windmill is proving a happy hunting ground for teams in need of an instant response

Below: Stuart Pierpoint is mid-celebration, only to see Stefan Moore screw his shot wide. Picture: Morris Troughton.
Below: Stuart Pierpoint is mid-celebration, only to see Stefan Moore screw his shot wide. Picture: Morris Troughton.

Harrogate became the second team this season to leave the New Windmill with three points on the back of a home humbling, writes Paul Okey.

Brakes had been forewarned after seeing Colywn Bay bounce back from a 5-0 defeat to beat them 3-0 in August.

However, they were not forearmed as Town produced the perfect response to their 4-0 mauling at the hands of Solihull Moors the previous Saturday.

Leamington could have few excuses after an insipid first-half display which failed to yield an effort on goal until the 35th minute.

Trailing to Callum Hassam’s 14th-minute opener, Paul Holleran’s side were a shadow of the side that pushed Barrow so close the previous week.

They received an unexpected lifeline in the 42nd minute through Richard Batchelor, but despite an improved second-half showing, two defensive mistakes made it a third home defeat in five.

Town were quickly out of the blocks and Neil Collett was lucky to escape with a caution after handling outside the area as James Walshaw advanced on goal.

The free-kick came to nothing but Collett had to be alert again in the ninth minute, gathering Walshaw’s fierce strike at the second attempt after a fine full-length stop.

He was unable to do anything about Town’s 14th-minute opener, however, with Hassan’s shot on the turn deflecting in off the challenge of Stuart Pierpoint.

It took Paul Holleran’s side 20 minutes to fashion a response, with Danny Newton’s header from Aron Wint’s cross flashing wide of the target.

At the other end, Hassan almost had a second after Simon Lenighan was allowed to travel unmolested through the heart of the home defence, with Collett out smartly to save at his feet and then comfortably dealing with his cheeky backheel.

With half-time approaching, Brakes got back on level terms, Batchelor’s stooping at the far post to head home Stephan Morley’s free-kick from the right.

Brakes could even have been ahead at the break, with Wint inches away from converting another inviting Morley delivery.

Harrogate were denied a second two minutes after the interval when Adam Nowakowski’s finish was ruled out for offside, but it was a much more even opening to the second period.

Wint whistled a shot narrowly over the bar with Town keeper Phil Barnes beaten, while an under-pressure James Mace was unable to get his header on target from Morley’s cross.

Wint and Newton also let fly from distance, while Lenighan went close at the other end following a neat lay-off from Lloyd Kerry.

It took a moment of quality to split the sides, with Craig Nelthorpe receiving a partially cleared corner 25 yards out and twice turning a leaden-footed Joe Magunda before driving a shot unerringly into the corner of Collett’s net.

Matt Heath almost handed Brakes a second leveller after being caught out by a booming Collett kick, but with Barnes scrambling, the defender’s back-header went narrowly wide of the post.

Stefan Moore then stabbed wide from close range when it seemed easier to score and, as so often happens, Town went up the other end and made the game safe.

Yet again, Brakes failed to clear their lines properly following a corner and when Lenighan returned the ball to the six-yard box, three players were left unattended, with Dave McGurk having the simple tasking of slotting past Collett.

Brakes: Neil Collett, James Mace, Stephan Morley, Joe Magunda, Stuart Pierpoint, Jamie Tank, Aron Wint (Matt Dodd, 74), Jordan Goddard (Lee Chilton, 74), Stefan Moore, Danny Newton, Richard Batchelor. Subs not used: Jack Edwards, Lee Moore, Luke Connolly.

Harrogate: Phil Barnes, Matt Bloomer, Rhys Meynell, Simon Lenighan, Matt Heath, Dave McGurk, Lloyd Kerry, Adam Nowakowski, Callum Hassan (Jake Speight, 60), James Walshaw, Craig Nelthorpe (Leigh Franks, 90). Subs not used: Ryan Kendall, Dominic Rowe, Peter Crook.