Saturday 29th April 2006

Saturday 29th April 2006
Stafford Rangers 0 Harrogate Town 1
Nationwide North
At: Marston Road
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Attendance: 806

On the final day of the regular league season, Harrogate Town finished the day as they began it, in fifth position, and will return to Marston Road on Tuesday evening (7.45 pm) to contest a play-off semi-final against Stafford Rangers, the Nationwide North runners-up.

Leading scorer Danny Holland scored the only goal, on 38 minutes, of a game with few clear-cut scoring opportunities.

Stafford’s Lee Downes had the first attempt on goal, firing well wide from fully 30 yards out.

The visitors quickly responded and a dangerous free kick cannoned off Paul Groves for a corner.

Both sides looked to get forward and Danny Ryan drove over the Stafford bar from outside the area.

Rangers almost took the lead on 21 minutes. Craig McAughtrie took a free kick from 20 yards out which deflected off the wall. The ball fell to Danny Edwards who saw a goalbound shot blocked by defender Chris Ellerker.

Nathan Smith and Edwards both went close before Harrogate scored the winner on 38 minutes. Gareth Grant pulled the ball back for the unchallenged Holland to slot home at close range.

Martyn Wood produced a superb save just before the interval to keep his side in front. Clearly unsighted, he did well to turn round a free kick from Edwards.

In the second half, Stafford found it difficult to penetrate the visitors’ well-organised defence and Martyn Wood was rarely troubled.

At the other end, Holland fired straight at Dean Williams from another chance created by Grant. The Stafford goalkeeper remained alert and pulled off a diving save to keep out a well-stuck effort from Lee Philpott.

As the game petered out during the final half-hour, Grant shot across the face of the Stafford goal and Holland sent another shot high over the bar.

During the interval, 41-year-old striker Neil Grayson was named Stafford Supporters’ ‘Player of the Season’.

Stafford Rangers: Williams, Sutton, Murray (Talbott, ht), McAughtrie (Daniel, ht), Groves, Reid, Downes, McMahon (Walker, 70), Pope, N. Smith, Edwards. Unused subs: Lovatt, A. Gibson.

Harrogate Town: M. Wood, Dunning, Ryan, L. Wood, Tomins, Ellerker, Grant (Lally, 90), Hunter, M. Smith, Holland (Jones, 83), Philpott. Unused subs: Heard, Stoneman, Mason.

Referee: R. J. Steans (Loughborough).

Goal: Danny Holland (38)

Non-League Paper Star Man: Holland (Harrogate)