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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Harrogate Town 0-1 Robins

9 February 2021

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Cheltenham Town's first ever league encounter at Harrogate Town's EnviroVent Stadium ended in victory on a freezing evening in North Yorkshire.

It wasn't one for the purists, not that Michael Duff and his staff will worry about that after losing a week of training to coronavirus.

This was more of a bar brawl in testing conditions but the Robins dug in here and deserved their win, a result that takes them from eighth position to third tonight.

Will Boyle's header settled it, two minutes before the break and the defender was arguably the game's outstanding performer, playing a central part in a third successive clean sheet.

It was a satisfactory night for the manager with promotion rivals Newport County and Tranmere Rovers both slipping up, plus the return of his key players from injury.

"It was a scrappy, ugly game," Duff said after the match.

"The pitch wasn't conducive to good football but in a game of few chances, we had them.

"The reason we put Sean Long in midfield so early on was bacause it was that type of game. It wasn't a case of getting the ball and playing through the thirds.

"You can't always play expansive football. They've come off the back of two good results so it was a hard fought away performance."

He made one change to his side, restoring Chris Hussey to his starting side on the left at the expense of Lewis Freestone. Meanwhile Callum Wright was named in the matchday squad for the first time since his arrival from Leicester City on deadline day but was an used substitute.

There was also the welcome return to action of Liam Sercombe, replacing Finn Azaz in the closing stages for his first appearance since the Colchester United match at Christmas.

The opening exchanges were pretty attritional and first chance of note arrived midway through the first half, a well worked move involving Charlie Raglan and Alfie May who teed up Andy Williams inside the box but the striker was denied by a goal line clearance by Jake Lawlor. May forced another low save 10 minutes later and should have scored with a third effort approaching half-time, racing on to a long ball only to blast over from a good position on the edge of the box.

There was an early setback when Chris Clements limped out of the contest, replaced by Sean Long in the midfield three.

But the goal arrived two minutes before the break and the substitute made it, winkling out a cross with the outside of his boot to find Boyle, who headed home his fifth goal of the campaign.

Josh Falkingham could have levelled things up on the stroke of half-time but he put his effort wide of the target.

The second half was low on chances, although the two number 10s traded chances in the opening 20 minutes. First Aaron Martin saw a header held by Josh Griffiths and then at the other end May hooked one wide of the target from 12 yards.

But the Robins restricted their hosts, who failed to test Griffiths over the course of the game to notch maximum points.

HARROGATE TOWN (4-4-2): Belshaw; Burrell (Fallowfield 74), Lawlor (Andrews 89), Hall, Francis; Power, Thomson, Falkingham (c), McPake (Muldoon 74); Martin, March. Subs not used: Kieran, Kerry, Minter (Gk).

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Griffiths; Raglan, Tozer (c), Boyle; Blair, Thomas, Azaz (Sercombe 80), Clements (Long 30), Hussey; Williams, May (Vassilev 80). Subs not used: Harris (Gk), Long, Bowry, Addai, Wright.

REFEREE: A Salisbury


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