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Leigh RMI 0 Harrogate Town 2

By Matt Lawton
August 25 2007

Blue Square North leaders Harrogate Town needed to show only a glimpse of their promotion credentials as they cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory at Hilton Park over Stuart Humphreys' previously unbeaten Leigh RMI side, albeit one decimated by recent injuries.

With regular first team players Stephen Hill, Mark Maddox, Owen Roberts, Steve Settle and Dan Owen all on the sidelines, RMI boss Stuart Humphreys had only fifteen fit players from which to choose his side, providing him with a major headache ahead of an already daunting encounter against a Harrogate Town side that had won all of their previous league fixtures this season.

Winger Michael Warwick was again preferred to Andy Heald on the left hand side of the Leigh midfield, while assistant manager Andy Roscoe made his first playing appearance of the season, with Steve Brockley, the previous occupant of the left back slot, moving to centre half in the wake of the injury to Stephen Hill.

Although unbeaten in their previous Blue Square North fixtures this season, RMI have shown a tendency to appear vulnerable from set pieces, and that was again the case this afternoon when falling behind after fifteen minutes of proceedings.

Visiting centre half Mark Hume had earlier fired somewhat of a warning shot when he headed over the crossbar when unmarked at a corner, but RMI were to have no such luck when they failed to clear a routine free kick from the right hand side, with RMI goalkeeper John Lamb failing to keep out a strike on the turn from Harrogate captain Roy Hunter.

With the visitors blending quick, incisive touches with an eye for more ambitious passes over a longer distance, RMI were struggling to get hold of the ball as Harrogate dominated possession for a large chunk of the first half, although their final chance of the half came from a rare Leigh corner kick that sparked a swift counter attack from the impressive Danny Holland, who cheekily nutmegged Roscoe and was only denied an assist to a certain goal by a terrific intercepting challenge from retreating defender Steve Brockley.

Indeed, it was Holland that was to prove to be at the hub of the bulk of Harrogate's attacking play, dropping deep to link up with his side's midfield whilst also attempting to convert any chances that may come his way.

It was a free kick from Holland that was to almost provide a second goal from the visitors, with Darren Dunning somehow managing to miss an open goal after Lamb had parried Holland's long distance strike in to the path of the former Blackburn man.

With twenty five minutes of the game still remaining, Harrogate's victory was sealed when some rather lightweight tackling on the left flank of Leigh's defence allowed a cross to reach the unmarked Holland at the far post, who made no mistake in notching his fifth goal of the campaign.

Leigh had a huge chance to pull a goal back within seconds of Harrogate doubling their advantage but, in keeping with RMI's day, Kevin Rapley's one-on-one attempt was denied by the legs of goalkeeper Curtis Aspden.

Although Scott Willis also came close towards the end for RMI with an acrobatic volley that flew over the crossbar, it was Holland who again looked closest to adding to the scoring when he first flashed an ambitious half-volley wide of the post when turning towards goal before he made a mess of an attempt in stoppage time after delightfully creating the opening for himself.

The defeat leaves RMI in mid-table ahead of the short trip to Stalybridge Celtic on Bank Holiday Monday, with any travelling support sure to be appreciated by the RMI side as they look to bounce back from their first defeat of the season.


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