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Harrogate Town 0 Worcester City 2
4:57pm Sunday 1st April 2012 in Skrill Conference North Table & Results By Steve Carley - Midlands Sports Journalist of the Year 2013, @stevecarleyWN
THE sense of anticipation at what Worcester City could achieve this season grows ever more palpable.
These truly are exciting times for the St George’s Lane club and with every passing victory so the dream of finishing in the play-offs — and the subsequent shot at promotion — edges closer to reality.
It was clearly evident after Saturday’s win at Harrogate Town and will only increase over the remaining five fixtures if Carl Heeley’s team maintain this sort of form.
The Wetherby Road victory was their second long haul triumph in the space of four days, following the 3-2 win at Boston United, and was their third away success in five — the other two being draws.
Losing to Droylsden last month is also the only time they have been beaten in the last 11 games — play-off form if ever there was.
Crucially, however, they have kept themselves firmly in contention by overcoming two major obstacles.
It is fair to say few people would have been prepared to stake much money on City gleaning six points from Boston and Harrogate without the midfield engine room of captain Kevin O’Connor and Tom Thorley. It would have been tough at full strength.
So to have done exactly that is a real shot in the arm for the confidence of the other players such as Matt Birley and Rob Elvins.
City have also demonstrated their ability to adapt, with two contrasting styles of display in the last two games.
At Boston, they played neat passing football and refused to let their heads drop after being pegged back twice.
After Elvins had nodded home Danny Edwards’ corner to give them a 35th minute lead at Harrogate, it was a case of protecting what they had.
Shorn of the pace of Michael Taylor and Greg Mills through injury, City didn’t carry as much of an attacking threat.
Rarely did the visitors commit men forward in the second-half, instead happy to defend and take any chance when it came, which sub Phil Green eventually did in stoppage-time, turning home Mike Symons’ cross.
Those hurdles cleared, City now have three of their remaining games at home — against already-relegated Eastwood, Hinckley and Workington, all of which are winnable.
The two away matches are at Nuneaton and Gainsborough, both in the play-off places but with the former a lot less secure following a six-point penalty.
Picking up points at home and taking them off their promotion rivals on the road would put City in a very strong position.
By Worcester doing their bit, it will only continue to turn the heat on the teams currently in the top five.
Those at the Lane may say they are only focused on themselves but you can bet one of the first things they do after the final whistle is check the other scores.
Similarly, the likes of Nuneaton, Gainsborough and Stalybridge will be just as keen to compute City’s results.
The permutations will be going into overdrive between now and the final round of fixtures on April 28.
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- AFC Telford United
- Boston United
- Brackley Town
- Bradford Park Avenue
- Colwyn Bay
- Gainsborough Trinity
- Gloucester City
- Harrogate Town
- Hednesford Town
- North Ferriby United
- Oxford City
- Solihull Moors
- Stalybridge Celtic
- Stockport County
- Vauxhall Motors
- Worcester City