Friday, 14 April 2017

Three-Hop Deluxe - Adventures in a Yorkshire Landscape (Mother Shipton Remix)

Hopperational details
Date & Venue
Friday 14 April 2017 at
a)  Wheatley Park, Garforth
b)  Station View, Harrogate
c)  Manse Lane, Knaresborough
a) Garforth Town 0 Staveley Miners Welfare 0
b) Harrogate Railway Athletic 0 Pickering Town 5
c) Knaresborough Town 1 Pontefract Collieries 5
Northern Counties East League - Premier Division (Step 5) for a) and b) and First Division (Step 6) for c)
Grounds 605-7 on the lifetime list
Pre-match preparation
Credit where credit is due.  My pre-match prep is as nothing compared to the months of organisation that have come together for this Hop.  My thanks go to Chris Berezai, Laurence Reade, anyone I am accidentally omitting, and all of the club and league secretaries, officers and volunteers who made all of this happen, from match to parking to programmes to refreshments.  Great stuff.
These matches in one sentence each
a) A stalemate between two hard-working and well-organised sides, with lots of effort but relatively few goalmouth chances.
b) A one-sided game rendered thus by the first-half dismissal of a Harrogate defender.
c) The game was settled by an amazing second-half burst of three goals in three minutes, including an audacious 40-yarder. 
So what?
Garforth remain mid-table, Staveley remain 6th.  In the same division, Pickering have an even stronger hold now on the runners-up spot behind Cleethorpes Town.  Harrogate RA are not technically yet safe from relegation - it would require a lot of things to go against them, but that's what happened today.  Pontefract did enough today to go to the top of Division One on goal difference.  Knaresborough have dropped to 8th place.
The drama unfolds
The first game of the day was initially dominated by Staveley, usually working down the right flank and using long throws to good effect.  After the break, Garforth had their turn to dominate.  There was plenty of pace and end-to-end action.  The game was never tedious but the two sides largely cancelled out each other's attacking threats.

The Harrogate RA pitch has a pronounced slope.  Pickering seemed untroubled by it as they asserted their superiority early on.  Home defender Mike Morris initially instinctively prevented a goal with a save, but it earned a penalty and a red card.  The visitors added two more with a header and a powerful shot before the interval.  In the second half, the one-way tode continued.  Pickering were somewhat wasteful and they added two more goals in a rather funereal atmosphere.

Knaresborough took a first half lead and held it at the interval.  The equaliser was a good goal and came early in the second half.  Pontefract's second goal may have been intended as a cross, we may never know.  However, an amazing three-minute burst settled the game.  A slightly fortuitous goal came from a dangerous deep cross, but then Jack Greenough danced through the defence for a great goal just before Kane Reece smashed in a shot from around 40 yards for an outrageous fifth.
Ground Pix

Garforth's impressive and imposing main stand

Harrogate RA's impressive and imposing clubhouse

Knaresborough's impressive and imposing dugout

Match Pix
Garforth in yellow ...

Harrogate RA in red...

Knaresborough in red...

Goalkeeper Top Colour Stats
At Garforth, Green and Grey share the points and both have a clean sheet too.  It was a bad day for Yellow at Harrogate RA, and Grey had another win and clean sheet.  Finally, a win for Radioactive Bile at Knaresborough as Grey's day was spoiled.
What Next?
Watch @GrahamYapp on Twitter for details!  Day 2 of the Hop will take me to Rossington Main, Armthorpe and Selby if I have the stamina!

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