Harrogate Town tops League Two thanks to match winners Jack Diamond and Luke Armstrong Yorkshire News

The Sulfurites are ahead of Forest Green Rovers on goal difference after playing one game less.

Stags fans will point to the role referee Paul Howard played, but they were already leading before Ollie Clarke and Stephen Quinn were sent off. Not that they have surpassed Mansfield at the time, but in Luke Armstrong and Jack Diamond they have two real match winners. They both made a big difference.

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Armstrong scored the equalizer early in the first half and scored the Jack Muldoon goal late. It was Diamond who was brought down by Clarke for a direct red card. Before play resumed, Quinn had been sent off for an off-the-ball incident in which Josh Falkingham fell to the ground clutching his face.

GOALKEEPER: Luke Armstrong

In all, Howard showed 10 cards.

Harrogate added one more goal in the final 15 minutes, and the only surprise was that Armstrong was not involved.

Building on the foundations of a strong debut season in the Football League, itself just a development of the team that gained promotion from outside the league, Armstrong’s aerial prowess has taken Harrogate to another level.

Between the penalty areas there was little to choose between the sides.

Muldoon is used to carrying the scoring load from Harrogate, the top scorer in each of his three seasons, but now he has others to help with the load. Danilo Orsi scored a Football League Trophy hat-trick against Mansfield in the middle of the week, but it shows how the competition is considered to be on the bench as both sides made wholesale trades.

Back in his place was Armstrong, signed from Salford City in the summer and with three goals to his name at kickoff. There was also a second debut from Jack Diamond, the winger on loan from Sunderland that was the only change from Harrogate’s previous League Two game.

Mansfield was in front after just three minutes, Rhys Oates reached for a Stephen McLaughlin free throw to the back post.

Armstrong took two minutes to respond, heading to the corner that Diamond won, but Mansfield was much more threatening in the early stages.

Mark Oxley had to cut through the center when McLaughlin once again took aim at Oates and George Lapsile fired from outside the area.

However, as the half progressed, Harrogate became familiar with the Stags and Diamond began to shine.

He produced a beautiful, excellent tackle chasing Kellan Gordon midway through and a beautiful pass to George Thomson, but Armstrong’s header hit a defender.

Lewis Page nearly suffered a second insult in addition to the one already added to his injury late in the half. He made a crying cross just where he didn’t want to and, as he tried to escape the pain, he was booked for a foul on George Maris just over 25 yards. Fortunately for him, Oxley saved McLaughlin’s free throw and in first-half injury time Armstrong hit a very good cross from Pattison for Muldoon to finish.

The 49th minute summed up the good of the visitors, Diamond repeating his beautiful turn from the 18th minute, taking the ball to the edge of the area and earning a free kick when his shot was blocked. Armstrong headed the ball, but it was offside.

It was another of his careers in which the game took a strange turn, beating rookie Rchard Nartey before being brought down by Clarke.

As soon as it became nine-on-eleven, it was just a question of how many more goals Harrogate could score.

Nathan Bishop did well to limit himself to one, saving when Muldoon was played, and then he did even better to knock Armstrong off with his feet.

Thomson completed it with a tremendous header from a corner and George Maris threw backup Simon Power back to see the card count reach double figures.

Harrogate, however, is a team heading in the right direction.

City of Mansfield: Bishop; Gordon, Hewitt, Nartey, McLaughlin; Maris; Oh Clarke, Quinn; Lapslie (Johnson 68); Oates (Rawson 76), Hawkins (Bowery 82).

Unused substitutes: Shelvey, Burke, Sinclair, Stirk.

Harrogate City: Oxley; Burrell, McArdle, Hall, Page; Thomson, Falkingham (Kerry 76), Pattison (Power 84), Diamond; Armstrong, Muldoon (Orsi 87).

Unused substitutes: Fallowfield, Martin, Cracknell.

Referee: P Howard (London).

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This notice was published: 2021-09-04 22:27:43

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