Sunday 24 April 2022

Ground #363 - Wetherby Road

Date: 2nd April 2022
Location: Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Ground: Wetherby Road

My third new ground of 2022 was on Saturday 2nd April at Wetherby Road in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. The game was Harrogate Town vs. Colchester United in Football League Two.

Wetherby Road sits in a built-up residential area to the east of the town centre. The ground has housing to the east and west as well as over the road to the south with the northern side flanked by an ambulance station. The venue is a mile south-west of Harrogate railway station and has been home to the club since 1920.

Wetherby Road has been significantly upgraded in recent years to facilitate the sides' dramatic rise through the football pyramid. The northern side of the ground is split into third with the Main Stand in the middle. This 880-seat structure replaced the previous 350-seat one in 2020. Next to this towards the western end is a terrace built a year earlier whilst to the east is a small corporate seating area. 

The southern side of the ground is mostly taken up by a terrace which is split into home and away sections via metal fencing. Atop of this terrace is the TV gantry whilst to the west, unusually for this level, is a small part of the pitchside area dedicated to an office building. Towards the eastern end is a small all-seater stand to provide a specific seating area for visitors. The eastern end itself is taken up by a small covered terrace constructed in 2019. This means that away supports have 1½ sides of the venue with home supporters having 2½. The other home area is for the more vocal fans who occupy the terrace which takes up the whole of the western end of Wetherby Road. 

The game saw Colchester's making the trip north to Harrogate with the away side needing the points to allaying relegation fears that have dogged the season. The hosts meanwhile were already all but safe with the majority of work done in an impressive first half of the season. The U's defence were not at all switched at the start of the game - Harrogate should have scored with barely 60 seconds on the clock when Calum Kavanagh was slipped in on goal and instead of shooting decided to lay off for Luke Armstrong to tap into the empty net. Unfortunately for the Irishman his ball was wayward and ended up going off for a goal kick. Colchester failed to heed the warning though and in the 4th minute poor defensive positioning resulted in Jack Muldoon getting the ball in plenty of space on the right side of the area. Muldoon coolly slotted the ball past Shamal George to put the Sulphurites 1-0 up. In the 21st minute Colchester equalised with their first chance of the match - Noah Chilvers' perfectly timed ball allowed Freddie Sears in on goal and the forward dinked the ball over the keeper into the back of the net. The two players linked up again on the stroke of half-time with Sears turning provider with a cross in from the left which found Chilvers six yards from goal only having to sidefoot into the corner of the net. The second half was a more even affair - the home side came closest in the 72nd minute when Shamal George pulled off a cracking save to Luke Thomson's 20-yard drive. Meanwhile Colchester should have grabbed a third in the 82nd minute as Sears again squared from the left but Luke Hannant's close range shot was saved by Mark Oxley. The final minutes saw the visitors very effectively manage the game to round off a 2-1 victory and three vital points in the battle to stay up.

Result: Harrogate Town 1-2 Colchester United
Division: Football League Two
Attendance: 1,615

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