Town hoping Ainge’s return will boost fortunes

Simon Ainge.
Simon Ainge.
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Simon Ainge came back with a bang, but his return to the Harrogate Town starting line-up for the first time since August was not enough to earn his side a much-needed three points.

The striker powered home a trademark back-post header in the 90th minute of Tuesday night’s National League North clash with Kidderminster Hariers to put his side 2-1 up, only for the visitors to earn themselves a share of the spoils with an equaliser deep into injury-time.

Ainge has been sidelined with a leg injury for the past 15 weeks, but made his comeback from the substitutes’ bench at FC United of Manchester on Saturday, netting a late consolation strike from the penalty spot.

And he almost looked as if he had never been away when he took to the pitch at the CNG Stadium in midweek, much to the delight of boss Simon Weaver.

“Aingey’s been outstanding for us once again, he is just such a threat up there,” the Town chief said.

“I’m delighted to see him come back into the team after so long out and pick up where he left off.

“He was probably the most fearsome centre-half at our level of football, and since he moved up front there isn’t a defender in this division who can cope with how he plays. As he gets fitter and stronger in the coming weeks I’m sure we’ll see him contributing even more.”

Town will be looking to get back on the winning trail tomorrow when they travel to third-from-bottom Nuneaton Town.

Sixth-placed Bradford Park Avenue host 10th-placed Tamworth.

In the Evo-Stik Premier Division, seventh-placed Farsley Celtic will look to put back-to-back defeats behind them when they travel to mid-table Stourbridge tomorrow.

In Evo-Stik North, 10th-placed Ossett Town host Ramsbottom United, Tadcaster Albion travel to South Shields, third-from-bottom Brighouse Town play at ninth-placed Clitheroe and next-to-bottom Ossett Albion face a trip to Skelmersdale.

In Evo-Stik South, sixth-placed Frickley Athletic travel to Peterborough Sports, who have won just three times at home this season.

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Fresh from their FA Vase victory over Worksop Town, Pontefract Collieries will be looking to take over at the top of the NCE Premier Division if they can win at Albion Sports and leaders Handsworth Parramore fail to pick up three points at Worksop.

Pontefract sit just a point behind Handsworth with four games in hand on their title rivals.

Pickering Town manager Paul Marshall will face one of his former clubs when the Pikes host Harrogate Railway tomorrow. Pickering advanced to the second round of the North Riding County Cup on Tuesday night with a 3-1 victory over Redcar Town.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, fifth-placed Hemsworth MW travel to mid-table Hall Road Rangers, while there’s a mid-table Yorkshire derby at Garforth as Town entertain Liversedge.

Division One leaders Knaresborough Town will be looking to extend their advantage over second-placed Eccleshill United when they host Armthorpe Welfare tomorrow.

Town lead Eccleshill by two points but have a game in hand on their rivals who face a tough home clash with third-placed Yorkshire Amateur.

Amateur themselves are just two points behind United, so it will be an important weekend in the Division One promotion race.

Fresh from their 4-2 victory at FC Halifax Town in the quarter-finals of the West Riding County Cup in midweek, sixth-placed Selby Town head to Rossington Main in the league tomorrow.

Liam Flanagan was the star man for Selby on Tuesday, netting a hat-trick.

Elsewhere in Division One tomorrow, Glasshoughton Welfare host Dronfield Town, AFC Emley play at Hallam and third-from-bottom Nostell Miners Welfare host the team one place below them in the table – Retford United.