HARROGATE TOWN 3 BOSTON UNITED 1: Pilgrims downed in a tale of two penalties

Ashley Hemmings.
Ashley Hemmings.

Craig Elliott’s first game in the Boston United dug-out ended in defeat as Harrogate Town came from behind to earn a comfortable 3-1 win.

Ashley Hemmings gave the Pilgrims a dream start in the fourth minute but the hosts were level within seconds, before completing the turnaround with a stunning strike and devastating break - Joe Leesley, George Thomson and Jordan Thewlis the matchwinners.

The result sees Town move up to second in the National League North with Boston remaining second-bottom.

Elliott stuck with the starting XI which drew 2-2 with Stockport County last weekend, with loan signing Reece Thompson and James Clifton the only two changes to the bench.

With less than five frantic minutes played both teams had scored, and both had been awarded a penalty.

Hemmings slotted the Pilgrims ahead from 12 yards in the fourth minute after Warren Burrell was caught shoving Gregg Smith in the box.

But seconds later Town were level.

After Jan Yeomans was adjudged to have tripped Josh Falkingham, George Willis guessed correctly to parry Leesley’s penalty, only for the Harrogate man to net at the second attempt.

Both sides should have added to the scoreline but Hemmings’ strike found the side netting and former Pilgrim Liam Agnew somehow rolled his effort wide when 10 yards from goal.

Thomson ensured the hosts went into the break ahead with a goal which was a thing of beauty.

Collecting the ball on the right flank he cut inside and unleashed a bending left-footer which flew into the far top corner of Willis’ goal.

Willis made sure his side were only a goal down at the interval with a firm near-post save to deny Ryan Fallowfield.

Town grabbed their third in the 58th minute, the hosts turning defence into attack with a lightning-fast break which ended with Thewlis twisting beyond Yeomans and rolling his effort beneath the dive of Willis.

James Belshaw was forced into making his first save of the day when he scrambled back to tip Hemmings’ dipping 35-yarder over his bar.

Harrogate should have been awarded a penalty when Jamie McGuire tripped Thewlis in the United box but referee Alex Kirkley - so eager to point to the spot in the opening five minutes - kept his whistle and lips apart.

Josh Falkingham forced a strike into the Boston side netting when we'll-placed while the away side were within a whisker of making the closing seconds interesting, but Kabongo Tshimanga couldn’t connect with Jay Rollins’ teasing cross.

HARROGATE: Belshaw, Fallowfield (Vann HT), O’Hanlon, Falkingham, Kennedy, Burrell, Thomson, Emmett (Curry 53), Thewlis, Agnew, Lesley; Subs (not used): Cracknell, Gooda.

UNITED: Willis, Yeomans (Clifton 59), Muggleton, McGuire, Beatson, McGowan, Hemmings, Keane, Smith (Tshimanga 78), Rollins, Vince (Thompson 57); Subs (not used): Broadhead, Waite.

Ref: Alex Kirkley

Att: 1,388.