Jon Dadi Bodvarsson claimed his first hat-trick for the club as goal-hungry Wanderers romped into round three of the FA Cup, writes Pete Oliver.
Bodvarsson’s only previous treble in this country had come in the competition for Reading in January, 2018 and he repeated the measure as Ian Evatt’s men became the first Wanderers’ side since the end of their Championship days in 2019 to go into the third-round draw.
The striker got all three in the first half as Wanderers went past 100 goals for the calendar year for only a third time in their history before Dan Nlundulu got in on the act with two goals of his own after the break.
By the time they had finished they had matched their record haul of 104 – set in 1934 – and although Harrogate’s single reply ended hopes of clean sheet record, a 12th win in their last 14 games keeps Evatt’s men rolling on with the possibility of an extended FA Cup run to come in the New Year.
Wanderers made seven changes to the side that had extended their nine-match unbeaten run with the mid-week draw at Oxford United which kept them on top of League One.
It was still a classy line-up for the switch back to cup action and three goals before half-time effectively got the job done as Wanderers made it five successive home wins to secure their passage through.
Bodvarsson was one of those to get a starting chance and he took the opportunity to add to his tally in cup football this season with his quick-fire treble.
Even the Icelander admitted beforehand an icy afternoon was a touch chilly but he raised the temperature just nine minutes as Wanderers swiftly gained control.
A typically intricate move ended with Will Forrester and Bodvarsson combining with the latter then sending a low angled drive across Jonathan Mitchell and into the far corner via the finger-tips of the Town keeper.
Bodvarsson had scored twice in Wanderers’ EFL Trophy win at Stockport last month and repeated the measure with just over half an hour gone.
However, he was quick to give the credit to strike partner Nlundulu, who did superbly to lay the chance on a plate.
Nlundulu had gone close to a goal himself with a couple of headed effort from set-pieces but this time showed all his pace and power to run onto a pass up the line from Jack Iredale, hold off a defender and storm into the box before squaring the ball for Bodvarsson to side-step home.
Two then quickly became three as Bodvarsson claimed the match-ball two minutes before the break, again showing his predatory instincts to force the ball home at the second attempt after an effort from Carlos Mendes Gomes had been blocked.
That might have totally deflated the visitors but with Wanderers not at the absolute peak of their powers – or needing to find top gear – they had been given moments of encouragement in the first half.
And in the dying moments the League Two side got a goal back to deny the Whites a club record eighth successive clean sheet.
Not the first time the Whites were a little lax in possession deep in their own half and from a mis-placed Gethin Jones' pass, George Thomson seized the opportunity to finally find a way past Nathan Baxter with a perfectly directed finish from outside the box.
If that was a reminder Wanderers couldn’t completely take their foot off the gas it was well heeded as they then came at the start of the second and re-stated their superiority with two goals in four minutes from Nlundulu.
The frontman has looked a new man in recent weeks and underlined his rediscovered confidence with two more tidy finishes.
Quick feet in the box allowed him to clip home his first and make it 4-1 and then in a near carbon-copy of his goal against Exeter a week ago he reacted quickest in the box to meet a driven Kyle Dempsey cross with another deadly touch.
Only a sharp save from Mitchell then kept out another effort from Bodvarsson before the Town keeper saved well with his legs to deny Nlundulu his hat-trick.
It was then just a case of whether Wanderers could add to their tally and possibly reach seven for the second Saturday in a row.
With Demspey and Morley both having shots blocked and substitute Victor Adeboyejo firing over the top it wasn’t to be. But Wanderers had more than done enough to register another comprehensive victory to maintain their momentum and a healthy interest in three competitions.
Wanderers: Baxter; Forrester, Almeida Santos, Iredale; Morley; Jones, Mendes Gomes (Maghoma 77), Dempsey (Sheehan 77), Williams (Ashworth 66); Bodvarsson (Adeboyejo 66), Nlundulu (Charles 77). Substitutes: Coleman, Thomason, Dacres-Cogley, Toal.
Booked: Mendes Gomes
Harrogate Town: Mitchell; Ramsay, O’Connor, Burrell (Gibson 69), Foulds; Thomson, Cornelius (Falkingham 69), Dooley (Sutton 69), Odoh (Daly 69); Muldoon, March (Sivi 79). Substitutes: Thomas, Sutton, Ilesanmi, Williams, O’Boyle.
Referee: Tony Harrington
Attendance: 5,703 (away 434)