PLAYING a town most famous for a posh cuppa and a cake at Betty’s may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

And it left City with a very bitter taste in the mouth after suffering a first League Two defeat at Valley Parade since last October.

For Stuart McCall, who lives on Harrogate’s doorstep, the result only backed up his pre-match assertion that Simon Weaver’s side are not here just to make up the numbers.

But for all the plaudits that will justly head Harrogate’s way, the City boss will be frustrated at his own side’s failure to push on after a keenly-fought encounter that had been close to call for the most part.

This historic first league meeting between two Yorkshire clubs separated by just 21 miles – but not that long ago six levels apart – was always going to grab the attention.

Under the glare of the Sky cameras – if still no actual fans in Valley Parade – Harrogate left with heads high after a 25-shot display that underlined their intentions. It was a shock to City's system but overall they could have few complaints.

McCall had made three changes with Gareth Evans making the first start of his second coming. Anthony O’Connor returned from suspension and Clayton Donaldson got the nod to partner Lee Novak up front.

Simon Weaver insisted Harrogate would not turn up “starry-eyed” after their regular TV appearances in the National League.

The long-serving boss had taken his club to Valley Parade twice before in the West Riding County Cup final and lost both – to Eccleshill in 2014 and Bradford (Park Avenue) two years later.

It was a lively start with Harrogate coming charging out the traps but the early chances fell to City.

Billy Clarke fired a snap-shot straight at James Belshaw and the Town keeper had to be on his toes to deny Novak’s half-volley after Donaldson had set him up inside the box.

Jon Stead, back at Valley Parade for the first time since those 2015 FA Cup exploits, offered a shot on the turn in response.

Both sides were committed to attack and chances followed at each end.

Levi Sutton switched off to allow Lloyd Kerry to fire in a shot that Richard O’Donnell could not hold. But the City skipper was alert to the danger and bravely plunged on the rebound, taking a painful dig from Stead in the process.

Donaldson then warmed Belshaw’s hands before Sutton nodded well wide from Evans’ cross.

Stead probably did not recognise the lush turf compared with his previous stay. But there was no mistaking his predatory instinct as he met Jack Muldoon’s cross with a goal-bound header that O’Donnell superbly clawed away.

Harrogate clearly fancied it and after Novak’s header flew wide, right back Ryan Fallowfield was only inches away from 20 yards.

The game had passed Evans by to some extent and he made way for Callum Cooke as McCall looked for more control in midfield.

And the sub immediately had a glorious chance after Donaldson’s clever flick round the corner set him up in space to shoot. But Cooke fired across goal and past the far post.

Stead continued his personal duel with O’Donnell as the game reached the hour mark, forcing the keeper into another low save. Then he flicked over the bar after O'Connor had kept out Fallowfield's cross.

It was City’s turn again as Clarke and Novak tried to pounce in a scramble in the Harrogate box – but the ball just wouldn’t come down for them to get off a shot. The hosts just needed that composure with their finishing.

Austin Samuels replaced Clarke with 20 minutes left to make his debut – but it was the visitors who made their mark on 74 minutes.

City’s defence were caught flat-footed from Muldoon’s cross and Kerry nipped in to guide the ball home inside the far post. They had finally made their shot domination count.

The visitors sensed even more joy as City lost their way and Calvin Miller picked out sub Brendan Kiernan for a low header that was held by O’Donnell.

With time running out, Samuels had the chance to save the day for his new club. But the Wolves man sliced his shot into the deserted Kop after being teed up by Novak.

As City desperately threw bodies forward, there was a big shout for hand ball against Fallowfield but referee Darren Drysdale ignored the frantic penalty appeals.

CITY: O’Donnell 6, French 5, A O’Connor 6, Staunton 6, Wood 6, Watt 7, Sutton 5, Evans 5 (Cooke 46min, 6), Clarke 5 (Samuels 69min), Donaldson 6 (Guthrie 81min), Novak 6. Subs (not used): Hosannah, Richards-Everton, Pritchard, Hornby.

HARROGATE: Belshaw 7, Fallowfield 7, Smith 6, Hall 6, Burrell 6, Thomson 7, Falkingham 8, Kerry 7, Miller 7, Muldoon 7 (Kiernan 83min), Stead 7 (Martin 80min). Subs (not used): Jones, Kirby, Walker, Cracknell.