Newton Aycliffe 2, Guisborough Town 0 (Northern League Division One)
Guisborough Town’s seven-match unbeaten run under new manager Steve Dowling came to an end after a frustrating and disappointing afternoon at Newton Aycliffe.
Despite a 2-0 defeat, however, the Priorymen managed to cling on to second place in the league – but Aycliffe are now breathing down their necks in third place only four points behind Guisborough but with three games in hand.
Shildon are now runaway leaders with an 11-point cushion over Guisborough and with Morpeth fourth six points behind Guisborough but with seven games in hand, the Priorymen’s title hopes look very slim indeed now.
Against Aycliffe on Saturday, on a very uneven pitch totally unsuitable to Guisborough’s normal passing style of play, the Priorymen started well and Curt Round could have put the visitors in the lead in the first minute but he pulled his shot agonisingly wide after being put clear by a superb glancing Ste Snaith header.
Then Snaith himself dragged a shot wide in the10th minute when well-placed and saw two other efforts well-held by the Aycliffe goalkeeper Winter. Danny Earl also had a goal-bound shot blocked as Guisborough piled on the pressure.
Guisborough had almost completely dominated the first 35 minutes with no reward for their efforts but in the last 10 minutes of the first half Aycliffe sounded a warning with Marty Moffatt and John Campbell drawing excellent saves from Guisborough keeper Nick Liversedge.
After the interval, Aycliffe built on the initiative they had seized at the end of the first half and in the 47th minute they almost took the lead through Garthwaite but his shot was saved brilliantly by Liversedge.
However, within the space of four minutes, Aycliffe surged into a 2-0 lead when the normally unflappable Guisborough defence was twice caught napping as first Moffatt shot home on 52 minutes and then Campbell doubled the home side’s lead.
Guisborough tried to force themselves back into the game and the closest they came was when a Danny Earl shot was well saved by Winter in the 65th minute.
As it was Guisborough had goalkeeper Nick Liversedge – deservedly named Man-of-the-Match – to thank for a string” of fine saves to keep the final score down to 2-0.
‘KILL THE GAME OFF’
After the match Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling commented: “I thought we lost out to very experienced and powerful Aycliffe team today whose forwards caused us problems in the second half.
“I felt we shaded it in the first half in a very tight game on a very heavy pitch. Earl and Snaith caused their defence a lot of problems and with a bit more luck might have got a goal of two.
“Overall, I was reasonably happy with our first half performance. But the second half was a completely different game with Moffatt, Campbell and Boagey causing us problems.
“We just failed to cope and enabled Aycliffe to take a two-goal lead then kill the game off and we never really looked like getting back in the game.
“I chose Nick Liversedge as our man of the match as he was really excellent again today.”
Photo: Guisborough striker Ste Snaith shows perfect poise as he tees up a shot which was saved. Pic by Yvonne Barker.