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Worcester City play-off hopes suffer body blow after Harrogate defeat
8:00pm Sunday 17th February 2013 in Blue Square Conference North Table & Results By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
WORCESTER City’s play-off hopes suffered another body blow as they slumped to a dismal defeat at Harrogate Town.
Following an impressive run of away form, which had seen City win three on the spin on their travels in recent weeks, the wheels came off at Wetherby Road.
In surrendering that record, the visitors find themselves facing an uphill battle to reach the play-offs and in danger of being overtaken by a host of teams.
Remarkably, Worcester are still sixth in Blue Square Bet North, following defeat for promotion rivals Oxford City, but they won’t be there for much longer.
Both last Saturday’s opponents Harrogate and Halifax have a raft of games in hand while those already in the top five can pull further away having also played fewer matches.
With two-thirds of the campaign gone, it is by no means the end of the road as far as the play-offs are concerned, but with each week so the margin for error gets smaller.
Following the well-deserved win at Stalybridge Celtic, City had been looking for long overdue back-to-back victories.
Instead, having slipped up against Solihull Moors at St George’s Lane last Monday, they returned from North Yorkshire with back-to-back defeats, which is hardly the form of a team seeking promotion.
In the process, they have conceded six goals and scored just two, one of which was sub Danny Edwards’ 85th-minute consolation at Harrogate when the game was already lost.
For whatever reason, City just couldn’t get going at Wetherby Road and had shipped three goals by half-time.
They were not helped by the worst pitch I have ever seen at this level, newly turfed in places following two months without a match but covered with so much sand it could have been renamed Harrogate-on-Sea.
It was only passed fit for purpose less than an hour before kick-off and cut up almost from the first whistle.
Yet, while it undoubtedly stifled City’s passing game, both teams had to put up with it and Harrogate adapted much better.
Simon Weaver’s side were undeterred by the beach-like surroundings and managed to move the ball around with relative ease.
Two goals from Paul Beesley, either side of a Chib Chilaka strike, did the damage in the first-half, while right-back Dwayne Samuels ran his former employers ragged throughout.
Rob Elvins and Danny Glover came close to giving the visitors something to show for their efforts before the break but, in the second-half, it was Harrogate who looked more likely to net again.
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