The Tigers defeated the Rail on the road in a dogged performance against a side at the foot of the table.
It certainly wasn’t a comfortable night for the visitors, nor much of a spectacle. But the Tigers put their body where it hurts and battled to come away 2-0 victors – a trait that will serve them well when the going gets tough in this promotion hunt.
The playing surface was very bobbly and had its infamous awkward slant which set the tie up to be a scrappy fight on the field, which was matched by the determination of Worksop’s rigid backline.
Craig Mitchell got the ball rolling just inside the first half-hour, as he latched onto Matt Sykes’ flick-on to poke past Wilton in the Railway’s goal.
Both sides had chances to change the scoreline, but the victory was confirmed when Matt Sykes popped up on the stroke of the 90 to take Steve Woolley’s threaded ball in his path before slipping the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs and into the net.
Steven Smith saw red as he thwarted Matt Sykes when he was about to enter the area, receiving his second yellow and his fair share of the hot water in the changing rooms.
Craig Denton was slightly critical of his side, but was happy with the three points they collected.
“I thought we were quite poor in that first 15-to-20-minute spell, but that’s not taking anything away from Harrogate who were solid and really wanted the three points.
“We had a couple of chances and went into the break at 1-0, and then I thought if we got the second then that would just come at ease – we scored that goal too late.
“We expected to really kick on from the off after the first-half and with them being reduced to ten men, but it seemed to give them more resilience, if I’m honest, and it probably made it more difficult for us.
“The task was to get three points, and that’s what we had to focus on and did.”
The gaffer then spoke about the set-up of his side and their performances.
“We decided to keep the same kind of shape and same personnel from Saturday.
“We were very happy with the defending on Saturday and we thought our defending principles were just as good tonight. We made good decisions as to when we needed to clear our lines and to win headers.
“Overall, our organisation was quite good tonight and our three forwards up front worked hard tonight. Woolley was in between those lines to create a little bit of magic.”
With a crucial game in the race for promotion on Saturday against Yorkshire Amateur, Denton expressed the importance of this fixture.
“All games are crucial at this stage of the season.
“The more we win, the more the pressure stacks up on us, but we have to deal with that. Yorkshire Amateur will make it a hard game for us. It’s a tough part of the campaign.
“Tonight we played a team at the bottom and Saturday we play a promotion hopeful who have just come off the back of a strong win away at Maltby. It’s going to be a tough one so we will need to prepare right, make sure we’re ready for that battle, and make sure we get the three points in front of, hopefully, a packed-out crowd at Sandy Lane.
“We normally have a good crowd and it has been going up in the last couple of weeks.
“There were just under 420 on Saturday and I don’t see any reason why we can’t break that 450-460 mark, which would be fantastic; getting in free with a Sheffield Wednesday or Sheffield United season ticket gives an incentive to come and support us.
“We just need to concentrate on what we do on the pitch. The crowd will spur the lads on, but also it adds a bit of pressure on us.
“I think the lads in the dressing room can handle that sort of expectation level.”
By Devon Cash