Worksop edge a tight encounter at Station View.
The Tigers made it nine wins out of nine games. A first-half strike from Craig Mitchell and a last-minute Matthew Sykes goal ensured the three points were going back to Nottinghamshire. Harrogate were reduced to ten men as midfielder Steve Smith brought Sykes down in the last ten minutes of the game.
During the opening stages of the game the Tigers struggled to hold possession. However, Worksop almost scored a wonder goal from an unlikely goalscorer in Max Pemberton; the defensive midfielder had a free-kick 35 yards out and the effort almost caught Harrogate keeper Joe Wilton off his line, but the shot-stopper managed to catch the attempt on the line.
Worksop started to grow into the game. Midfielder Ross Goodwin hit a sweet half-volley in the 16th minute, unfortunately the attack-minded player’s effort went agonisingly wide of the Athletic post.
Two minutes before the half hour mark, the Tigers drew first blood. Striker Steve McDonnell played a beautiful ball to the edge of the box, man of the moment Matthew Sykes assisted with a fantastic flick from his head, and the loose ball was finished by Mitchell who calmly slotted into the bottom right-hand of the goal.
The first half was dominated by Worksop, who looked a real threat going forward. Sykes collected the ball halfway into the Harrogate half, and his dazzling run and step-overs frightened the Harrogate defence, but his fierce strike stung the palms of the Rail ‘keeper.
The hosts started the second half as they did the first, giving the Tigers something to think about. However, after numerous moves forward in the first ten minutes, their attacks came to nothing, something that would cost them at the end of the game.
The Rail continued making life hard for the Tigers and broke away from a Worksop attack just after the hour mark. A dazzling run and shot from Smith was matched by a great save from Tigers ‘keeper Dave Reay.
Harrogate’s evening got worse when they were reduced to ten men. Sykes beat Smith and looked to bear down on goal before the midfielder brought the winger down just outside the box. The man in black gave Smith his marching orders in a crucial period of the game.
Eight minutes to go and the Tigers had one of their best chances of the game, following great play down the left from Sykes and Mitchell. Mitchell’s cross was superb, falling to sub Lynton Karkach whose effort on the edge of the Harrogate goal sailed over the bar.
It was game, set and match for the Tigers in the final minute. Skipper Danny Patterson played the ball to Steve Woolley who played a fantastic weighted pass into the path of Sykes, putting him one-on-one with ‘keeper Wilton and nutmegging him to give the Tigers another great three points.
Line up: D. Reay, Atherton, Hill, Wankiewicz, Pemberton, Patterson (C), Woolley, Goodwin (Jones), McDonnell (Karkach), Mitchell, Sykes (Brunt)
Unused subs: Jordan, Ward
Goals: Mitchell (28), Sykes (90)
Bookings: Smith (45, 73), Duerden (64), Patterson (90)
By Luke Atherton