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Leigh RMI 2 Harrogate Town 1 (FA Trophy)


By Matt Lawton
December 19 2006

RMI overcame the loss of influential midfielder John Dillon to record a deserved victory over Conference North rivals Harrogate Town and secure a trip to Conference National side Stevenage Borough in the FA Trophy Second Round. Whilst Liverpoolís game with Arsenal, taking place thirty miles down the East Lancashire Road from Hilton Park, was called off because of the thick winter fog engulfing the region, RMIís encounter was given the go-ahead without any major problem, and although it certainly wasnít a completely clear view, a growing fixture pile-up was avoided with the completion of the game.

Both sides failed to get to grips with the wintry weather, and though Harrogate shot inches wide of John Lambís goal in the early stages and RMI striker Mark Jackson had a goal disallowed because fellow striker Dan Owen was in an offside position, the first half was overshadowed by what appeared to be a serious injury to Leigh midfielder John Dillon.

Dillon, who has been particularly impressive during his spell on loan from Crewe Alexandra, seemed to twist awkwardly in the aftermath of a routine tackle and he remained on the ground for several agonising minutes before being carried from the field on a stretcher and taken to hospital with a suspected fractured ankle.

The injury to Dillon saw a certain degree of reorganisation in the RMI side as Steve Porter moved from right back to the centre of midfield, with Andy Roscoe moving to the back four and substitute Ian Taylor playing on the left hand side of midfield.

It was Porter, impressive in his advanced position, who finally broke the deadlock when he innocuously headed a loose ball towards goal and it crept past wrong-footed Harrogate goalkeeper James Lindley.

The goal sparked RMI in to life and, amidst some terrific passing football as they toyed with their opposition, the home side extended their lead when an Andy Roscoe cross reached Dan Owen in the penalty area, and the striker was able to lay the ball off to onrushing midfielder Hugh McAuley, who beautifully hammered the ball in to the back of the net.

With the visitors posing little threat, it gave RMI the chance to entertain their supporters, and they grabbed that chance with both hands as they passed the ball around with a degree of confidence and comfort that hasnít been seen at Hilton Park for several years as the Railwaymen looked set to go a sixth game unbeaten.

Although Harrogate striker Danny Holland, scorer of Harrogate's equaliser in Saturday's encounter between the sides, halved the deficit in stoppage time, the home side were able to hold on and celebrate progress, as well as a much-needed winnersí cheque for £4,000 courtesy of the FA.

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