Saints thwarted by decision but retain unbeaten home record

Brackley Town striker Lee Ndlovu is thwarted against Harrogate Town. Photo: Mike Capps
Brackley Town striker Lee Ndlovu is thwarted against Harrogate Town. Photo: Mike Capps

Brackley Town head to Kidderminster Harriers for Monday’s Vanarama National League North clash with their unbeaten home record still intact.

Second-placed Harrogate and third-placed Saints shared the points in a game of high intensity and no little quality in atrocious conditions on Friday at St James Park. Driving rain throughout the game fell onto an already sodden pitch turning the heavily sanded surface into a quagmire.

The first half was an even affair with both sides unable to make the most of their chances, the best of which fell to the home side. Saints enjoyed the better of the second period, had the clearest chance of the game and were aggrieved not to be awarded a late penalty when substitute Joe Iaciofano appeared to be felled.

Shane Byrne’s swerving effort was just inches too high early in the first half and Jimmy Armson hooked an effort just over. Captain Gaz Dean’s header flashed wide from Shane Byrne’s free-kick and as halftime approached, Armson’s shot was cleared off the line and his fine 20 yard effort was turned expertly round the post by a diving James Belshaw.

For Harrogate, Jake Wright’s run created a goalmouth scramble that Saints eventually cleared. Joe Leesley’s shot caused problems for Danny Lewis before Wright’s follow-up effort was blocked in the closest that the visitors came to a first half breakthrough.

Saints created a golden chance to take the lead when Aaron Williams was put through on goal by substitute Jordan Nicholson but the shot was straight at Belshaw who saved well. A fine move on the right late on saw Lee Ndlovu unable to get enough contact on Shane Byrne’s cross as another chance went begging.

The stalemate maintains Saints’ 13 month unbeaten home record and marks the first time this season Harrogate have failed to score. The draw benefited top-placed Salford whose home win edged them further ahead of their two closest rivals.