Who? Harrogate Town
Where? The People’s Pension Stadium
When? Tuesday, September 21, 7:45pm kick-off
Sky Bet League Two Match Eight
Redz Bar will be open from 5pm. Reception will open from 4:30pm for hospitality.
Match Sponsor: Mat Cowdrey
Harrogate Town are beginning only their second-ever season in the Football League and remain under the guidance of the longest-serving manager in England’s top five leagues, Simon Weaver. Weaver’s side have started the 2020/21 as arguably the surprise package of the division, boasting an undefeated first six games and the best points per game ratio in League Two at the time of writing (2.33). The Sulphurites took four points off the Reds last season including a 3-1 win on their last visit to the People’s Pension Stadium; Tom Dallison netted for the Reds in the February fixture.
ONES TO WATCH
Mark Oxley is an experienced goalkeeper who makes his 201st appearance in the English Football League today – after a 12-year-long professional career. A product of Rotherham United’s academy, a then 17-year-old Oxley transferred to Hull City where he made 10 appearances for their U23s and played one minute of Championship football. He was sent out on loan five times over the course of seven years while at the Tigers, featuring for Walsall, Grimsby Town, Burton Albion, Oldham Athletic and Hibernian. This last loan move resulted in a transfer and Oxley scored on his Scottish Championship debut. The ‘keeper then transferred to Southend United in 2016 and made 169 appearances before joining Harrogate this summer.
Position: Central Midfielder
Josh Falkingham has captained the Sulphurites to two promotions and into the football league and FA Trophy after transferring to the Yorkshire club from then National League North rivals Darlington in 2017. Prior to joining Darlington, Falkingham was making a name for himself in the Scottish Championship and the Scottish League One with St Johnstone, Arbroath and Dunfermline Athletic- whom he captained to promotion to the Scottish Championship. He made 187 appearances in Scotland over a six-year period before finding his way back to England and trophy success with Harrogate Town.
Jack Muldoon has finished as Harrogate’s top goalscorer in each of the three seasons he’s been with the club including netting 15 times last season in 47 appearances. His youth career involved stints at Scunthorpe United, Brigg Town and Alfreton Town before he moved into adult football in non-league with Sheffield FC, North Ferriby United and Worksop Town until he joined Rochdale in 2014. While at Rochdale, he went on loan to National League FC Halifax Town – playing 12 times and scoring twice – before moving on to Lincoln City and helping the Imps to promotion from the National League in the 2016/17 season. After two years in Lincolnshire, he moved over to the West Coast and AFC Fylde where he spent a year before moving to Harrogate Town and achieving goal-scoring success. He’s currently on three goals and one assist in seven games in all competitions this season.
Harrogate have made a remarkable start to their second season in the football league, kicking off the campaign with a six-game unbeaten run before their defeat to Port Vale on Saturday. The Sulphurites currently sit in the automatic promotion spot of third with a game in hand after their season was brought to a halt only weeks into August, meaning their cup game with Rochdale had to be forfeited.
Town kicked off their season with a home victory over recently relegated Rochdale at the EnviroVent Stadium, as defender Warren Burrell popped up with an injury time winner. Simon Weaver’s side had to wait two weeks until their next game due to the COVID-19 outbreak, but again displayed late drama after coming from behind to defeat Barrow at home. Alex Pattison scored an impressive second-half brace to overturn a one-goal deficit after Barrow’s Zanzala netted in the 17th minute.
Harrogate’s 100% record was continued after game three when they recorded a 0-2 away win at Leyton Orient, a side who had remained undefeated in their opening three games. Striker Luke Armstrong struck twice in the first-half as the Sulphurites held on to their three points and clean sheet despite conceding a second-half penalty that was missed by Harry Smith.
With nine points from nine, Harrogate next hosted Exeter City in Yorkshire. Jack Muldoon opened the scoring from the spot moments before the half-time whistle but Josh Key of Exeter earned the Grecians a valuable away point with a late strike which meant the scoreline ended 1-1.
After defeating Mansfield Town 3-1 at home in the EFL Trophy in midweek, Harrogate defeated the Stags by the exact same scoreline four days later in league action, this time away from home. Mansfield took the lead after three minutes thanks to Rhys Oates, but only two minutes later, Luke Armstrong added to his season tally with a quick equaliser. His partner in crime, Jack Muldoon, gave the Sulphurites the lead on the brink of half-time, before Mansfield were put down to nine men after both Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn were shown red with fifteen minutes to play. George Thomson put the game to bed with a third goal.
Harrogate extended their unbeaten run to six games when goals from Jack Muldoon and Luke Armstrong meant they earned a point in a 2-2 home draw against Newport County. But the run ended in their seventh league fixture on Saturday when they travlled to Port Vale. For the first time this season, Weaver’s side failed to score and lost 2-0 at Vale Park, bringing them down to third in the league table.
HEAD TO HEAD
Crawley have only met with Harrogate on two occasions, both coming in League Two last season as today’s visitors made their football league debut after promotion from the National League in 2019/20.
The Reds are yet to beat the Yorkshire side after these two meetings, with the first ending in a draw away from home when Max Watters’ opener was cancelled out in the dying stages of the game by Jack Muldoon, as the game ended 1-1.
Harrogate later travelled to West Sussex and looked a much improved side, this time winning 1-3. The visitors netted three times in the first half in a blitz. Aaron Martin, Josh March and Simon Power were the scorers. Tom Dallison replaced Mark Wright at the break and scored a consolation goal before Will Smith was shown red for Harrogate.