Luke Armstrong strikes early to earn Harrogate Town a point at Tranmere Rovers

Simon Weaver credited his Harrogate Town players’ approach to training during their enforced 13-day break as the contributing factor behind Friday night’s positive display at Tranmere Rovers.

The Sulphurites ultimately had to settle for just a point despite creating more than enough chances to win the game comfortably, Luke Armstrong’s early opener cancelled out before half-time by a fortuitous leveler.

Weaver had said in the build-up to the game that there could be no excuses for not being quick “out of the blocks” after almost a fortnight off – and his players did not disappoint.

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Having seen last weekend’s scheduled fixture at Newport rearranged due to international call-ups, Harrogate got their noses in front with just four minutes on the clock and looked the more likely throughout, managing 16 shots, nine of which were on target.

Luke Armstrong of Harrogate Town opened the scoring at Tranmere Rovers (Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images)Luke Armstrong of Harrogate Town opened the scoring at Tranmere Rovers (Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images)
Luke Armstrong of Harrogate Town opened the scoring at Tranmere Rovers (Picture: Pete Norton/Getty Images)

Rovers, by comparison, mustered just the one effort on Mark Oxley’s goal.

"Straight from the off, we looked on it,” Weaver reflected. “I thanked the lads for training so well that it set up this performance.

"I’ve not felt so good for quite some time about the performances of the whole squad in training. The last couple of weeks is probably the best we have trained for the last couple of years.

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"There has been a real togetherness, but a good edge to training, a competitive edge. We’ve been doing a little bit of extra work as well and there has been time to work with the players. The lads have executed the sessions so well and acquitted themselves with energy and taken that into this game.

“I’ve got a good feeling about the performance and the point. It’s a difficult place to come, we knew we had to remain composed throughout, pass the ball, which we did right from the off and caused them problems, having 16 shots.

"We looked creative, but at the same time solid, so we are on the right path."

Armstrong broke the deadlock when he met George Thomson’s inviting cross from the right at the near post and diverted a sweet first-time finish beyond Mateusz Hewelt.

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"It was an unbelievable ball in from Thommo, and what a finish,” Weaver added.

"Right place, right time yet again. And the timing of it was superb.”

Rovers got back on terms when Rhys Hughes’ 30-yard free-kick struck the upright and bounced off the back of the diving Oxley and into the back of the Harrogate net.

The second half began with Kazeem Olaigbe forcing a decent stop out of Hewelt before Armstrong got in behind down the right but dragged a low finish across the face of goal and wide.

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At the other end, Joel Mumbongo’s effort from inside the box was well saved by Oxley, though the visitors were soon back on the offensive.

Danny Grant cut inside a couple of defenders before firing straight at Hewelt, then a 70th-minute free-kick was taken short to Olaigbe, whose strike from distance drew a parry out of the home custodian.

The loose ball broke into the path of Jack Muldoon, however he was denied on the follow-up by a superb recovery from the Polish stopper.

Olaigbe tested Hewelt again during the latter stages, while Saunders shot over for Tranmere, but in the end, the shares were spoiled.

Friday’s draw moves Town seven points clear of the League Two relegation zone with eight fixtures left to play this term.