Harrogate Town have been promoted to the English Football League after defeating Notts County 3-1 in the Vanarama National League Promotion Final at Wembley.
George Thomson, Connor Hall and Jack Diamond got the goals for Simon Weaver’s men as they collected their golden ticket to the promised land of the English Football League for the first time in their 106-year history.
The North Yorkshire side settled into the spacious Wembley surroundings much better than opponents Notts County and they almost took the lead with just three minutes on the clock. Aaron Martin charged down Mitch Rose’s attempted clearance but the ball rolled agonisingly wide of the far post with Notts County goalkeeper Sam Slocombe stranded.
Weaver’s side went one better two minutes later when they did break the deadlock. The excellent Ryan Fallowfield put a low ball into the box from the right and Thomson was there to direct the his effort home from a couple of yards.
The one-way traffic continued with both Martin and Jack Muldoon striking efforts narrowly wide before the game’s second goal arrived when Harrogate Town’s Hall popped up at the back post to convert from a free-kick delivery from the right.
Harrogate Town’s 2-0 lead could have been greater had Diamond’s lofted effort had not been cleared off the line or if Martin’s strike was just a couple of inches further right, his shot coming back off the post.
Notts County simply couldn’t have been any worse in the second half. Home truths had clearly been delivered by manager Neil Ardley in the dressing room at the interval and his players responded within a couple of minutes of the restart with Callum Roberts curling home a delicious free-kick.
Roberts then saw a rasping strike from 18 yards fly just wide before Kristian Dennis’ powerful shot was blocked by Harrogate Town keeper James Belshaw.
Harrogate Town could have put the game to bed 20 minutes into the second half but Muldoon drilled his shot wide after Thomson’s initial effort had been blocked. Five minutes later, they did seal their promotion when Muldoon crossed for Diamond to steer the ball home to make it 3-1.
There was still time for Belshaw to make himself big to prevent Notts County substitute Wes Thomas from netting from close range before the base of the post denied Jon Stead a fairytale moment in second half injury time. Stead’s miss didn’t matter one bit as Harrogate Town went on to make history in being promoted to the English Football League for the very first time.