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Harrogate Town 2 Leigh RMI 1

By Matt Lawton
November 18 2006

Eddie Hussin's first goal for RMI wasn't enough to prevent his side from falling to defeat at a freezing Harrogate, despite being a goal ahead for nearly fifty minutes of the game. Although the hosts had fallen to a shock home defeat to Hyde United in midweek, they went in to the game in confident mood as they looked to strengthen their grip on a play-off spot against an RMI side that continue to struggle at the foot of the table, despite last weekend's impressive comeback to draw with high-flying Droylsden. With the advantage of a strong wind behind them, along with a sizeable slope in their favour, Harrogate, unlike the weather, started brightly and were immediately on the attack, putting John Lamb under pressure in the RMI goal almost straight from the kick off.

With Chris Simm missing through suspension, RMI boss Stuart Humphreys gave a full league debut to former Preston striker Mark Jackson, who partnered Dan Owen up front against a strong Harrogate defence.

As heavy rain started to sweep across Wetherby Road, the pitch quickly became a mud bath and as such developed in to a rather compelling midfield battle, with Hugh McAuley and Eddie Hussin both working extremely hard in midfield to try and release wingers Steve Settle and Lee Unsworth.

Although Harrogate had enjoyed the bulk of both possession and territory, RMI looked particularly dangerous on the counter attack, and they showed a glimpse of their true quality after twenty three minutes when some delightful link up play between McAuley, Settle and full back Andy Roscoe put Hussin in the clear to fire a low shot in to the corner of the net, much to the delight of the faithful band of travelling supporters.

The lead could have been doubled shortly afterwards when Jackson forced a smart save from the Town goalkeeper, before the game descended in to chaos when it appeared that Harrogate had scored an equaliser, only for the linesman to rule out the goal for offside, even though it was striker Colin Hunter who was in an offside position, rather than scorer Danny Holland. The entire Harrogate team hounded both the referee and his assistant, with home manager Neil Aspin sent to the stand as a result of his ongoing protests.

The home side continued to provide a sporadic threat, but the RMI defence looked a lot more comfortable than they have in previous weeks and they weathered the Harrogate storm to ensure that they remained in the lead ahead of the interval.

The early stages of the second half were in stark contrast to the first as the rain stopped and RMI pushed further forward in the hope of extending their lead, with a decent amount of possession allowing RMI to build a certain degree of pressure around the home side's penalty area, with Jackson and Settle causing particular problems for the Harrogate defence.

Jackson had a terrific chance to seal the game when he found himself clear on goal after a cleared Harrogate corner resulted in a lightning RMI counter attack, only to be denied a first RMI goal by an excellent James Lindley save.

That scare sparked the home side in to action and, with the home crowd behind them, Harrogate's pressure finally told with twenty minutes when a back post Colin Hunter header saw Lamb finally beaten.

The winning goal came with just eight minutes remaining on the clock, and in all fairness it was a goal that was worthy of winning any fixture in the country as Harrogate left back Dave Merris fired an unstoppable left foot strike from outside the area and in to the top corner of the net.

The defeat leaves RMI three points adrift of safety, but this afternoon's generally sound defensive performance, along with the impressive way that recent signings Hussin and Jackson have settled in the side, means that RMI's next win is surely around the corner, hopefully resulting in a cheque for 3,000 with victory over Cammell Laird in the FA Trophy next weekend.

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