Wes Hoolahan goal clinches Cambridge United victory over 10-man Harrogate Town in Sky Bet League Two
Wes Hoolahan grabbed the winner for Cambridge United as they beat Harrogate Town 2-1 in Sky Bet League Two.
Jack Muldoon had given the visitors the lead in an uneventful first half at the Abbey Stadium, but Joe Ironside equalised for the U’s and, eight minutes later, Hoolahan struck what turned out to be the winner not long after Lloyd Kerry was sent off for Harrogate.
Harrogate looked a lively side, moving the ball well and having a good structure in the first half.
They landed the first blow after just 10 minutes with the opening goal.
A challenge in midfield helped the ball forward, and Josh March moved it on to Muldoon, who had beaten the offside trap. With just Dimi Mitov to beat, he tucked his shot into the bottom corner.
As far as clear-cut efforts in the first half went, that was about as good as it got for either side.
March and Muldoon lashed efforts off target for Harrogate, while Luke Hannant could not hit the mark for the U’s.
The best opportunity for the hosts came in the 15th minute, as Hoolahan picked out a good run by Harvey Knibbs but, after a good first touch, the striker could not get the ball out of his feet to land a meaningful shot.
United’s problem was that they were building up the pressure but attempting ambitious shots that were never going to get through the sea of blue shirts.
However, they made an aggressive start to the second half, earning a string of corners.
From one such set piece, Hoolahan deftly flicked on at the front post and Knibbs, arriving at the edge of the area, saw his shot deflected narrowly wide.
It was one-way traffic as United searched for an equaliser.
Hoolahan laid the ball into the feet of Knibbs, who turned smartly but shot over the bar.
In a rare venture forward for Harrogate, Josh McPake teed up March, who warmed the hands of Mitov.
As fog descended, it was making visibility harder.
Kyle Knoyle drew a good save from Harrogate keeper James Belshaw, but from the following attack United drew level.
A ball in from the left was turned in at close range by Joe Ironside.
With little more than 10 minutes remaining, Harrogate were reduced to 10 men after Lloyd Kerry was shown a straight red card for raising a hand to Harry Darling.
In the 82nd minute, United took the lead.
After more good build-up play down the left, the ball was moved to Hoolahan in a central position at the edge of the area, and the midfielder placed a curling shot into the bottom corner.
With Harrogate a man light, United were able to hold out for a win that moves them into the automatic promotion places.
Cambridge United: Mitov, Knoyle, Taylor, Darling, Dunk, Hannant, Digby, May, Hoolahan, Mullin, Knibbs.
Substitutes: Ironside (Knibbs, 67), Davies (Hoolahan, 90+4). Not used: Burton, Iredale, O'Neil, Okedina, Cundy.
Harrogate Town: Belshaw, Burrell, Thomson, Lawlor, Kirby, Muldoon, Hall, Francis, March, McPake, Roberts.
Substitutes: Williams (Roberts, 54), Kerry (Kirby, 64), Falkingham (Francis, 64), Stead (March, 82), Hondermarck (McPake, 82). Not used: Minter.
Referee: Carl Brook.
Bookings: Cambridge United - Darling (foul, 64); Harrogate Town - March (dissent, 35), Kerry (foul, 66), Falkingham (booking, 79).
Red card: Harrogate Town - Kerry (violent conduct, 77).