Guisborough Town 2, Ashington 0 (Northern League Division)
Two goals inside the last nine minutes – including a stunning Ste Snaith gem – earned gutsy Guisborough Town a hard-fought victory over a stubborn Ashington at a wind and rain-swept KGV Stadium.
It was the Priorymen’s fourth straight league win in a row and ensured they retained second position in the table – but with many of their close rivals also winning – including leaders Shildon, it’s still very tight at the top.
Against a stubborn Ashington side, Guisborough had to dig deep to eventually grind out a result and it wasn’t until the 81st minute that they finally broke the deadlock with a superb Snaith effort.
The tenacious striker rounded off a superb move down the left with Danny McWilliams and Curt Round linking up well before Snaith curled a magnificently-measured 20 yard shot beyond the reach of Ashington keeper Connor Grant and just inside the far post. It was a goal that would have graced Match of the Day!
It was Snaith’s 14th goal of the season and capped another fine display by the ex-Whitby player, who has slotted into the Guisborough team exceptionally well and continues to impress greatly with his wholehearted commitment game after game.
Then in the 88th minute, Danny Earl rounded off another Man-of-the-Match performance by netting his 31st goal of what has been a superb season so far for Guisborough’s leading marksman. Another fine passing move down the left ended with a peach of a cross from McWilliams and Earl was there to smash the ball against the bar but tap in the rebound to ensure all three points for the Priorymen.
Overall, it was a very pleasing result in the end which keeps Guisborough within striking distance of leaders Shildon, who won 3-1 away at Durham, but with many of the closing pack around them including arch rivals Marske United also winning, it looks like it is going to be a very tight race for the title.
Both sets of players deserve much credit for serving up an absorbing contest in strong winds and driving rain at times. The attendance was a creditable 150 despite the poor weather conditions.
Although seven places below Guisborough at the start of play, Ashington surprised the Priorymen with their standard of play and up until Snaith broke the deadlock late on the visitors came close to scoring themselves on several occasions with good efforts going either just too high or too wide.
And their big, no-nonsense defenders proved hard to break down for the Guisborough midfielders and forwards.
EARL A CONSTANT THREAT
Guisborough Manager Steve ‘Dowlo’ Dowling, who has not seen his side lose since he took over last December, was delighted with the result and commented afterwards: “This was a very hard-fought game against a very competitive Ashington side.
“I actually thought Ashington shaded the first half and looked dangerous in forward areas but our back four coped well with them.
“Their pressing made it difficult to get our passing game going and I thought in the first half that we kicked too long on occasions and played into their hands.
“In the second half, we got on the ball more and created quite a few more chances. I thought our superior fitness levels got us over the line today with two excellent goals late on. Steve Snaith got a very good individual goal and Danny Earl rounded off a well-worked team goal.
“Ashington will properly feel hard done by as they played well and are a decent team. The man of the match went to Danny Earl who was a constant threat all game. I also thought Leon Carling ran him close with a commanding defensive performance. Overall, the entire team deserves credit for what was a great team effort,” added Dowlo.
Guisborough now turn their attentions back to the North Riding Senior Cup when they take on York City’s Academy side in the Quarter Final at the KGV Stadium on Tuesday, 9 February (kick-off 7.45pm).
Footnote: Ste Snaith’s dad Russ – who follows all of his son’s games home and away – was delighted to see his 81st minute wonder goal go in but just missed out on the golden goal prize because his ticket was for the 85th minute. “I’ll be having words with him later to tell him to score a bit later next time,” joked Russ.
Photo: That man Snaith again typically right in the thick of the action surrounded by Ashington defenders. Pic by Yvonne Barker.