Harrogate Town 2 Barrow AFC 1: Alex Pattison's brace fires Sulphurites to second win

Alex Pattison's second-half double saw Harrogate Town recover from a goal down at home to Barrow and make it two wins out of two in 2021/22.

Harrogate Town midfielder Alex Pattison netted a brace against Barrow. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Saturday's fixture was the Sulphurites' first outing since their opening day of the season victory over Rochdale following a Covid-19 outbreak which has kept them out of action for a fortnight.

And despite beginning the contest with three of the five players who contracted by the virus in their starting line-up, Simon Weaver's men produced an energetic performance, showing plenty of character to recover from falling behind early on.

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With heavy rain pouring, Town suffered a set-back as early as the first minute.

Left-back Lewis Page, making his first start for the club, was involved in a collision which left him with a cut to his face and ended his afternoon before it had even really begun.

Showing no obvious signs of rust or sluggishness despite their recent inactivity, the hosts went on to play some decent football on a slick Wetherby Road surface, only to fall behind on 17 minutes.

Weaver’s men had looked comfortable prior to Patrick Brough swinging over an inviting cross from the left which Offrande Zanzala stretched to stab home at the far post.

Undeterred, Town continued to see plenty of the ball and got themselves into some decent areas as they sought a route back into the contest.

Danilo Orsi teed-up strike partner Luke Armstrong inside the box for an effort that Paul Farman did very well to push over his cross-bar.

Thomson then stung the Barrow custodian’s palms with a drilled 20-yard strike, before Mark Oxley produced a fine reaction stop at the other end to thwart Josh Gordon following a huge melee at a corner.

A Harrogate corner in time added on looked as if it would lead to an equalising goal, however Connor Hall fluffed his lines.

Thomson’s initial delivery from the left was cleared, but Pattison nodded the ball back into the danger zone where the Town centre-half failed to beat Farman, then directed the rebound across the face of goal and wide.

The first decent opening of the second period arrived when Josh Kay get the better of Ryan Fallowfield down the visitors’ left and showed good footwork to engineer himself a sight of goal, only to get the finish all wrong.

Although chasing the game, Weaver then opted to bring striker Orsi off and midfielder Lloyd Kerry on as he switched from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3 in the 59th minute.

And that decision proved to be an inspired one, as the hosts drew level less than 60 seconds later.

Fallowfield slid a clever pass down the side of the Barrow back-four for Armstrong to run on then pull-back for Pattison.

A Bluebirds defender threw himself in front of the ex-Wycombe midfielder’s strike, however the ball looped high into the air and eventually dropped over the head of the back-pedaling Farman, who made a mess of trying to keep it out of his net.

The Cumbrians could have re-claimed the ascendancy almost immediately, Kay heading over Remeao Hutton's right-wing centre inside the six-yard box when he ought to have done much better.

Oxley then did very well to push away substitute George Wiliams' volley at the end of a route-one assault, before being forced into another decent save at his near post by Luke James' close-range attempt.

But it was Town who would go on and grab the game's decisive goal after the visitors were mugged near the centre circle.

Thomson's nicely-weighted pass sent Pattison one-one-one with Barrow's last man and, having beaten him for pace, he ignored options to his left as he advanced on Farman's goal and blasted home.

And Harrogate's man of the match even had chances to complete his hat-trick during the dying moments, firing a left-footed shot wide of the mark before seeing the ball nicked off his toe by Farman in another one-on-one situation.

But, three goals in his first two appearances for the club represents quite the start for Pattison, and ultimately proved sufficient to wrap up back-to-back League Two victories.