Seaham Red Star 2, Guisborough Town 3 (Northern League Division One).
Guisborough Town cemented their position in third spot in the league after an exciting, see-saw 3-2 victory at Seaham Red Star.
The performance left new Manager Steve Dowling delighted with his players and he commented afterwards: “The lads have trained really well over the Christmas period and were raring to go – so I was very happy that the game got the go-ahead despite the difficult conditions.
“I thought Seaham started the better for first ten minutes but for the next 35 minutes we were the much better side. Our pace and movement caused Seaham all sorts of problems and to be fair a 3-0 score at half-time wouldn’t have flattered us.
“In the second-half we conceded a sloppy goal after a minute which was very disappointing. But the arrival on the pitch of young sub Connor Smith caused their back four problems and helped us score two quick goals to put us back on top.
“From that point we should have seen the game out but Seaham’s second goal put us under a bit of pressure. To be fair, on a poor surface it was a good game overall and Seaham have some decent technically good players in forward areas which will cause teams problems,” added Steve.
With Guisborough playing away from home in the league for the first time since as long ago as 24 October last year, the main surprise of the day was that the match was actually on, despite more prolonged rain.
On top of the wet conditions, a blustery wind made accurate passing difficult but overall both teams deserved great credit for serving up a thoroughly enjoyable game.
Seaham started brightly and looked dangerous at times down their left wing but Guisborough’s defence stood firm and gradually the Priorymen began to find their normal passing rhythm.
And Town took the lead when in the 18th minute Pete Bulmer picked up a loose ball in midfield, moved forward and found Curtis Round on the left. In turn Round passed to Danny Earl who wrong-footed his marker and crossed the ball into the box. When the ball ran loose Bulmer was on hand again to finish off the move he had started with a confident strike.
While Seaham continued to compete at every opportunity, it was the Priorymen who were adapting to the conditions more effectively with several slick passing moves so typical of their play this season. The pace of the Guisborough attacks – down both flanks and through the centre – was proving too much for the Red Star men and it was only their ‘keeper pulling off three good saves that prevented Guisborough from moving into a more convincing lead by half-time.
Seaham began the second half with the wind at their backs and almost immediately after the restart equalised through David Palmer following an attack which the Guisborough defence should have dealt with.
Not surprisingly, this fired up both teams to greater efforts and there followed a spell of competitive midfield action with some robust challenges on either side. In the 57th minute, Seaham thought they had taken the lead when a cross from the right was guided past Nick Liversedge but the referee ruled, quite rightly, that the Red Star striker had handled the ball.
REGAIN THEIR COMPOSURE
The Priorymen managed to regain their composure and Danny McWilliams ended a strong run deep into the Seaham half with a well-hit shot which the Seaham ‘keeper managed to keep out.
Guisborough continued to attack with some sweeping movements but were unable to get in a clear shot on goal – or when they did shots went either high or wide.
Midway through the second half Guisborough brought on Connor Smith for Gary Wood, with Ste Snaith moving back to midfield.
In the 75th minute, a Seaham attack was snuffed out and the ball was moved forward quickly into the Seaham half, where Chay Liddle fooled the Seaham defenders with a perfectly judged pass to Danny Earl just inside the penalty area. Town’s leading striker advanced, took aim and fired confidently past the despairing Seaham ‘keeper to make it 2-1 to Guisborough.
One minute later and the ball was played forward to Danny Earl who delicately flicked it into the path of substitute Connor Smith who set off towards the Seaham goal, easily outpacing the home defence. Smith then moved into the box to confidently strike the ball past the advancing ‘keeper to put the Priorymen 3-1 ahead.
If the Guisborough team and their supporters thought that was “game over” they were wrong. Seaham pressed forward in determined fashion and in the 82nd minute were rewarded with a somewhat scrappy but deserved goal from Palmer.
Thankfully, despite this late scare, the Priorymen managed to see out the game to the final whistle – a match which was a credit to both teams considering the conditions.
Guisborough Manager ‘Dowlo’ made midfielder Chay Liddle his Man-of-the-Match with striker Danny Earl a close second.
“I chose Chay Liddle as my man of the match as he was constantly probing and looking to get us playing and worked very hard throughout. I also thought Danny Earl ran him close with his goal and the amount of work he does for the team. He was a threat to the home back four all game and had a hand in the two other goals,” added Steve.
Photo: Pete Bulmer, scorer of Guisborough’s first goal, weaves his way through the Seaham defence. Pic by Yvonne Barker.