Solihull Moors 2 Harrogate Town 0: Chance to close gap at the top goes begging

Harrogate Town missed out on the chance to move within touching distance of the National League's top two when they lost 2-0 at Solihull Moors.

Harrogate Town endured a night of frustration in Solihull. Picture: Matt Kirkham
Harrogate Town endured a night of frustration in Solihull. Picture: Matt Kirkham

Simon Weaver’s men never really got out of second gear on Tuesday evening, failing to break down a mean home defence that has now gone more than 700 minutes of football without conceding a single goal.

Victory from what was their game hand in over leaders Leyton Orient and second-placed Salford City would have left the Wetherby Road outfit just four points shy of top-spot, but they were second best for much of the contest.

The opening exchanges were rather scrappy, however the match eventually came to life in the 22nd minute when Moors thought they had taken the lead.

Jamey Osborne’s inviting left-wing free-kick was glanced home by Matty Stenson, though he was in an offside position at the time.

Jamie Reckord’s low driven cross from the left edge of the box was then diverted against the foot of the near post by Danny Wright, before Town passed up a golden chance of their own to take the lead.

Joe Leesley’s delicious right-wing cross picked out Kelvin Langmead, and his header looked destined for the top corner, only for Ryan Boot to produce a fine reflex save.

The visitors had perhaps edged the possession stats up until this point, though the rest of the half belonged to Solihull.

They moved ahead 10 minutes before the interval when an unmarked Alex Gudger was left with the simple task of nodding home Osborne’s left-wing corner from inside the six-yard box.

The hosts continued to press all the way up until half-time and there were a few nervy moments for Weaver’s side, who will have been relieved to hear the referee’s whistle bring the opening period to a close.

Town managed to generate a little more forward momentum at the start of the second 45, skipper Josh Falkingham’s hurried effort from the edge of the area ending up just wide of the mark.

A swift Harrogate break down the right then saw Jack Muldoon race into the box, only to blast into the side-netting despite having options to his left.

Solihull continued to look a threat themselves, but Town weren’t far away from a leveller in the 68th minute, Leesley curling a free-kick narrowly the wrong side of the post.

It was however the home team who finished the contest the stronger, substitute Adi Yussuf smashing a shot against James Belshaw’s upright after Wright found him close to the penalty spot.

Moments later, the same player went one better, just about converting from 12 yards out and wrapping things up after referee Richard Hulme awarded a spot-kick following what looked very much like a dive by Osborne.

Defeat means that Town remain third in the table ahead of Saturday’s home meeting with Aldershot.