Football: Harrogate Town hammer leaders Hednesford Town

Double: Chris Hall was on form for Town with two goals
Double: Chris Hall was on form for Town with two goals
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Chris Hall’s first-half double ensured Harrogate Town remained unbeaten in 2014 as they toppled joint Skrill North leaders Hednesford Town 3-1 at the CNG Stadium.

Town enjoyed a comfortable afternoon as Simon Weaver’s side completed a seasonal double over their Staffordshire promotion chasing opponents.

Hall poked Town ahead on 10 minutes before defender Matt Heath doubled the advantage midway through the opening period.

John Disney’s spotkick gave the visitors a brief hope before Hall returned the two-goal advantage shortly before the break.

The vital three points left Town in eighth but closed the gap on several faltering play-off rivals.

And the Sulphurites will now head into their Yorkshire derby with Guiseley seven points below the top five and full of confidence.

Boss Weaver brought Craig MacGillivray straight back into his starting line-up after his talented stopper recovered from a chest muscle tear.

Craig Nelthorpe switched into central midfield to replace Adam Bolder (suspended) as new signing Dan Clayton was also handed a starting berth on his second return to the club.

And it was the winger’s pace that led to the opening goal. Clayton sprinted to the left byline, and his deep cross gave Worsfold room to pick out Hall, who tapped in.

Hall could have doubled his personal and team’s tally on 20 minutes. Steve Mallory’s free-kick, won from a push in Hall’s back, caused problems to the visiting defence and Hall volleyed over.

Clayton again found space on the wing and another foray to the byline brought a second teasing cross but Paul McCone cleared in front of Worsfold.

But moments later, Town did double their lead. Dwayne Samuels was scythed down 40 yards out, and Mallory’s quality free-kick was turned in by Matt Heath for his first goal since joining in January.

Samuels was then involved in another foul, as his stray leg brought Jamey Osbourne down in the box and referee Graeme Fyvie pointed to the spot. Full-back John Disney sent MacGillivray the wrong way with 10 minutes left in the half.

The impetus switched into the visitors’ hands, and Neil Harvey blazed a half-volley across MacGillivray’s goal before Paul Sullivan had a shot deflected wide.

However, Town’s speed on the counterattack came to the fore again with just two minutes to go before the break. Worsfold’s tireless running kept the ball in down the right before his byline cross laid Hall in perfectly. The big targetman switched his feet and creamed a left-footed strike past Hednesford ‘keeper Dan Crane.

Hednesford switched their tactics with two substitutions inside the first five minutes, forward Nathan Woolfe on for centre-back Francino Francis and Wayne Riley replacing Osbourne.

But the visitors continued to lack penetration, and they resorted to shots from distance.

MacGillivray twice saved well from Dave McPherson and Paul Sullivan.

Weaver’s first replacement saw Anton Brown replace Mallory, with a switch in tactics to a five-man midfield.

On 68 minutes, Worsfold, moved to the right of the five, rode two challenges to dribble through the Hednesford defence but his reversed left-footed shot skewed narrowly wide.

That would prove to be Worsfold’s final attempt as Weaver threw on the pace of Sheffield United loanee Jahmal Smith to attack the flanks.

Nelthorpe was given greater freedom to roam in central midfield, and, after Hall’s knock down, he lashed a vicious effort narrowly wide.

Hall had one last chance to bag himself the match-ball, but Crane brilliantly blocked his snapshot from Smith’s cross.

Results from around Skrill North:

Guiseley 0-1 Worcester

Boston United 1-2 Brackley Town

Gainsborough Trinity 1-1 Leamington

Barrow 2-0 North Ferriby United

Solihull Moors 2-2 Colwyn Bay

Stockport County 2-0 Stalybridge Celtic

Vauxhall Motors 4-0 Histon

Read Thursday’s Advertiser for full match report, comment and analysis.