Harrogate Town 3 Walsall 0 - Sulphurites give League Two survival hopes massive boost against Saddlers

HARROGATE TOWN took a huge step towards securing their Football League status as they recorded a comprehensive home win over Walsall.

The combination of their first victory in five attempts and second-from-bottom Hartlepool’s loss on the road at Salford moves the Sulphurites six points clear of the League Two relegation zone and still boasting a game in hand on all of the sides beneath them in the table.

Having had to fight back from 2-0 down in each of their three previous matches, the emphasis heading into Tuesday’s fixture was very much on starting better - and Simon Weaver’s men did exactly that.

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They were much the quicker out of the blocks and got their noses in front with just 10 minutes on the clock as Luke Armstrong was set free down the right and delivered a low cross into the six-yard box.

BATTLING: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Mike Egerton/PABATTLING: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Mike Egerton/PA
BATTLING: Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver. Mike Egerton/PA

Alex Pattison didn’t make clean contact at near post, but the ball reached the onrushing Sam Folarin at the back stick and he finished confidently from close range.

Having continued to make most of the running, Town looked to have doubled their advantage just after the half-hour mark.

Captain Josh Falkingham embarked on a superb driving run through midfield and slipped a pass through to Armstrong, who finished clinically, only to then see the assistant referee’s flag go up for offside.

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The hosts continued to press and engineered a couple more promising attacking situations, however it was Walsall who finished the half the stronger.

Having offered virtually nothing as an attacking force for 39 minutes, the Saddlers came within an inch of levelling matters when Jamille Matt’s header across goal found strike partner Matty Stevens, who lifted an effort over Mark Oxley but just the wrong side of the upright.

An even better chance presented itself in first-half stoppage time following a corner from the left, but Oxley pulled off a fine save at point-blank range to keep out Brandon Comley’s header.

The second period began with Walsall asking a few questions of the home back-line as Weaver’s men dropped too deep, but the visitors never really threatened a breakthrough.

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And, having got themselves back on the front foot, Town added a second goal on 66 minutes when the ball broke for Olaigbe on the left-hand corner of the away box and he whipped a delicious right-footed finish across Owen Evans and into the top corner.

Ten minutes later, the points were made safe. Substitute Matty Daly did well to turn the ball over in midfield before driving forwards and slipping a perfectly-weighted pass to his left for the overlapping Pattison to race onto and beat Evans one-on-one.