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Bromley 1 Harrogate Town 1: Belshaw’s heroics help to extend unbeaten start

Harrogate Town number one James Belshaw in action during Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bromley. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town number one James Belshaw in action during Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bromley. Picture: Matt Kirkham
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James Belshaw produced an incredible goalkeeping display to help Harrogate Town extend their unbeaten start to life in the National League.

The visiting stopper pulled off save after save, thwarting hosts Bromley as they threatened to run riot during Saturday’s action-packed encounter in South London.

And his efforts meant that when Dominic Knowles tapped home Jack Emmett’s 73rd-minute centre, the goal levelled the scores and did not just prove to be a mere consolation strike.

It was in fact Town winger George Thomson who had the chance to open the scoring after only 15 seconds, but Ravens custodian David Gregory was quickly off his line to block one-on-one.

Bromley then took charge and seized the initiative with 12 minutes on the clock.

George Porter cut in from the left and was afforded time and space on the edge of the box to send a low effort past Belshaw.

Town’s response was positive, Callum Howe seeing a header from Thomson’s right-wing corner cleared from the line and Knowles a goalbound shot blocked.

But the rest of the opening period belonged to the home team, Porter curling a 20-yarder against the inside of the post before an offside flag meant that Omar Bugiel’s close-range finish was ruled out.

Belshaw then pulled off an incredible triple-save just past the half-hour-mark, pushing away Bugiel’s initial attempt, then reacting rapidly to block from Porter on the follow-up, not once but twice.

Another good stop followed five minutes later, the Harrogate gloveman parrying Porter’s blast after the visitors were once again carved wide open.

The best of the lot came six minutes before the break.

Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe pulled back from the right for Bugiel, whose near-post strike already looked to be past Belshaw when he kicked out a leg, somehow diverting the ball to safety.

The opening period ended with Bromley launching waves of attacks and the sound of referee’s half-time whistle will have come as a welcome relief to Simon Weaver’s men.

The second 45 did however begin the same way that the first had ended, with Belshaw once again required to save his team’s bacon, diving full-length to his right to paw Porter’s deflected shot around his upright.

At the other end, Knowles teed up Jack Muldoon, and he forced Gregory to beat away his powerful hit from around 10 yards out.

Town, stirring, came closer still moments later. Williams rifled a Knowles pull-back against the underside of the cross-bar and Muldoon’s attempt to convert the rebound was then brilliantly charged down with the net gaping.

Just seconds after coming on as a 61st-minute substitute, Bromley’s Bobby-Joe Taylor was sent in on goal by Bugiel, but Belshaw was swiftly off his line to intervene once more.

Harrogate could easily have been dead and buried, but they weren’t, and having kept themselves in the game they pulled level 17 minutes from time.

Emmett got to the byline down the right and rolled across the face of goal for Knowles to tap-in the equaliser from a yard out.

Belshaw was forced into meaningful action one last time in the 80th minute, stretching to keeping a Jack Holland effort out of his net, but it was Town who finished the game the stronger of the sides.

There was still time for Williams to extend Gregory at his near post, but that was as close as the visitors were to come, and the contest ended all-square, leaving Weaver’s team unbeaten in three.