Harrogate Town 2 Wrexham AFC 1: Substitutes inspire Sulphurites to FA Cup success

Simon Power and Danilo Orsi came off the substitutes' bench to fire Harrogate Town to a comeback victory over Wrexham in the first round of the FA Cup.

Simon Power drills home Harrogate Town's equaliser during Saturday's FA Cup win over Wrexham at Wetherby Road. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Without a win in their previous four matches, the Sulphurites served up another uninspiring performance for the best part of 70 minutes and looked to be on their way out of the competition.

But, trailing their National League visitors by a goal, a switch in formation sparked Simon Weaver's side into life and two clinical finishes in the space of six minutes turned the game on its head.

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Missing top goal-scorer Luke Armstrong due to a shoulder injury, Harrogate lined up with Aaron Martin leading the line and never really looked particularly threatening during the first half of Saturday's contest.

Their best moments came when Jack Diamond and Alex Pattison got on the ball and drove at the visiting defence, though clear-cut chances were few and far between.

One such raid down the middle of the pitch by Pattison led to Diamond delivering a dangerous low cross from the left which Wrexham skipper Luke Young almost diverted into his own net on 18 minutes.

Perhaps Town’s best opening came and went in the just before the half-hour mark when the Reds defence parted and allowed Pattison a clear sight of goal on the edge of the box, though the former Wycombe Wanderers man dragged his finish.

Lacking in cutting edge though they were, the hosts looked in control of proceedings with half-time approaching, only to gift away another dreadfully soft goal.

Just as was the case at the same end of the field when Bristol Rovers nicked a 1-0 win in North Yorkshire seven days earlier, a ball hopefully tossed into the Harrogate penalty area was not dealt with, despite there being plenty of numbers back.

On this occasion, James Jones’ overhead kick diverted the ball goalwards, whether the otherwise ineffective Jordan Ponticelli was left unmarked to apply a finishing touch from a yard out.

Town have developed a habit of starting the second half of games slowly in recent weeks, and they served up another disjointed, lacklustre 20-minute performance immediately after the resumption.

But, once Weaver introduced Power, Orsi and Jack Muldoon and reverted to his tried-and-tested 4-4-2 formation, the Sulphurites started to look slightly more of a threat.

Without a recognised target-man on the field, they kept the ball on the deck and abandoned the ploy of launching hopeful long balls which has blighted big chunks of their last four outings.

And, having survived a dangerous Wrexham counter-attack that ended with Liam McAlinden shooting tamely wide, Harrogate got themselves back on terms in the 73rd minute.

Power was brought down just outside the away box and got up to drill a 19-yard strike beyond Robert Lainton from Diamond's lay-off at the resulting free-kick.

With the crowd suddenly up, Town pressed forwards and should have taken the lead when Power cut the ball back from the right and Diamond somehow failed to beat Lainton from close range as the visiting custodian threw out a leg and pulled off a stunning reaction save.

At the other end, Mark Oxley was required to make a decent stop of his own, thwarting Tyler French and ,moments later, Harrogate were in front.

Muldoon raced through on goal, but failed to touch the ball around the advancing Lainton, though Orsi was on hand to slot into the unguarded goal in composed fashion.

Pattison should have ended the game as a contest before the regulation 90 were up, only to blaze over the cross-bar with just Lainton to beat following excellent work by Muldoon in the build-up.

And that miss seemed as if it might prove costly as the Reds laid siege to the home goal in stoppage-time, though on this occasion the hosts stood firm and saw the game out.