Steve Harris – @steveharris84
Match details: Harrogate Town V Torquay United – National League
Venue: The CNG Stadium, Wetherby Road
Date: Saturday 7th December 2019
National League form (last 6):
Harrogate Town: W – L – D – W – D – L
Torquay United: W – W – L – L – L – L
Last time the two teams met: National League, Torquay United 4 Harrogate Town 2 – 7th Sept 19
Three second half goals in the space of ten minutes proved to be decisive for Torquay United, as they came behind twice to defeat 10-man Harrogate Town.
A first half penalty from veteran striker Jon Stead had given Harrogate the lead on 33 minutes, which they held until the half-time break. However, the introduction by Gulls manager Gary Johnson of Kalvin Kalala in place of Manny Duku early in the second half proved to be an inspired move, as the Frenchman fed Ben Wynter on 51 minutes and his cross found it’s way to Jake Andrews who equalised for United.
However, Stead restored the visitors’ lead on 58 minutes when he connected with a left wing cross from deep by George Smith to tap home to complete his brace. Five minutes later, Stead went from being a hero to a zero when he received his marching orders for a harsh second yellow card, after being adjudged to have handled the ball.
In the 70th minute, the Gulls drew level again when Kalala found the back of the net with a stunning strike from 25-yards. Two minutes later, United were awarded a penalty of their own after Andrews was felled by Ryan Fallowfield. Reid stepped up to take the spot-kick, which was saved by James Belshaw but he then pounced on the rebound to give the Gulls the lead for the first time in the contest.
With ten minutes to go, Reid curled home United’s fourth with a shot on the turn after being teed up by Kalala and that settled the match for the Gulls.
Manager: Simon Weaver
After being released by Sheffield Wednesday in 1998, Simon Weaver made his name in non-league circles with Ilkeston Town and Nuneaton Borough, before Keith Alexander handed him another shot at league football with Lincoln City in 2002. During his two years with the Imps, Lincoln reached the Division Three play-offs twice despite having one of the smallest budgets in the division.
Weaver left Sincil Bank early in the 2004-05 season and had spells with Kidderminster Harriers, Scarborough, York City, Tamworth, Boston United, Kings Lynn, Redditch and Ilkeston before he was appointed as player-manager of Harrogate in 2009.
One to watch: Jon Stead
With a career that has encompassed spells with Huddersfield Town, Blackburn Rovers, Sunderland, Sheffield United and Ipswich Town amongst others behind him, Jon Stead’s love of playing football remains as strong as ever.
Stead, now 36, who also appeared 11 times for England at Under-21 level earlier in his career, was Harrogate’s stand-out performer against the Gulls last September until his controversial sending off.
In an era when fewer players are prepared to drop down the leagues as they would have done in times gone by, the fact that Stead – who has over 600 appearances to his name as well as over 150 goals – still displays the appetite for playing should rightfully be applauded.
Classic encounter: FA Cup 1st round replay, Harrogate Town 0 Torquay United 0 (Torquay won 6-5 on penalties) – 15th Nov 05
After drawing 0-0 following 90 minutes and 30 minutes extra time, the Gulls emerged as 6-5 winners on penalties – with Andy Marriott emulating Gareth Howells’ feat against Blackpool at Wembley in 1991 by scoring the winning penalty as a goalkeeper.
United then went on to defeat Notts County 2-1 at home in the 2nd round before drawing Birmingham City – then of the Premier League – in the third round, where they were beaten 2-0 at St Andrews following a thrilling goalless draw at Plainmoor.
Torquay XI: Marriott, Woods, Taylor, Sharp, Lloyd, Hockley, Garner (Coleman 99), Woodman, Hill, Bedeau, Stonebridge
Subs Not Used: Hewlett, Bittner, Phillips, Sako
Ryan Fallowfield – Will Smith – Connor Hall – Mitch Hancox
George Thomson – Jack Emmett – Josh Falkingham – Jack Diamond
Jon Stead – Jack Muldoon
Ben Wynter – Joe Lewis – Kyle Cameron – Ramarni Medford-Smith
Matt Buse – Asa Hall
Ben Whitfield – Connor Lemonheigh-Evans – Jake Andrews
COYY – Steve