August 5, 2021

Harrogate promoted to League Two for first time

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Harrogate Town have been promoted to the Football League for the first time in their history after beating Notts County 3-1 in the National League play-off final at Wembley.

County were looking to return to League Two at the first attempt having been relegated last season but they started nervously and fell behind after just five minutes.

Harrogate right-back Ryan Fallowfield got forward and put a low cross in for George Thomson, who got ahead of his marker Ben Turner to slide past Magpies goalkeeper Sam Slocombe on the stretch from six yards out.

Thomson then turned provider on 28 minutes when his free-kick into the box was hooked home by centre-back Connor Hall, with the County defence struggling to contain their opponents.

Harrogate Town players and staff celebrate after beating Notts County 3-1 in the National League play-off final at Wembley.
Image: Harrogate Town players and staff celebrate after their play-off final victory at Wembley.

Aaron Martin also struck the post for Harrogate as the opening period drew to a close, with the County defence struggling to contain their opponents.

Neal Ardley’s side made the perfect start to the second half, however, as Callum Roberts curled a left-footed free-kick from 20 yards past James Belshaw in the Harrogate goal and into the bottom corner.

Roberts then almost equalised with a shot that curled just past the post, with Harrogate then going close at the other end when Jack Muldoon somehow screwed the ball wide from close range after Thomson’s shot had been blocked.

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Belshaw, a Notts County fan growing up, then denied Magpies sub Wes Thomas with a fine point-blank save as they tried to find a way back into the game.

Notts County manager Neal Ardley looks dejected at the final whistle as they lose 3-1 to Harrogate Town in National League play-off final
Image: Notts County manager Neal Ardley looks dejected at the final whistle

Instead it was North Yorkshire club Harrogate who put the result – and promotion – beyond doubt 20 minutes from time, Sunderland loanee Jack Diamond making the most of some more hesitant County defending to clip the ball into the bottom corner.

Town’s 37-year-old striker Jon Stead – who joined Harrogate at the start of the season after almost four years at Notts County – could have made it four goals in time added-on but the sub struck the upright.

Harrogate will now join Barrow in League Two, after they were named National League champions after the season was cut short due to the coronavirus pandemic.