Guisborough Town 2, Norton & Stockton Ancients 1 (Northern League Division One)
Guisborough Town avenged a shock 3-1 league defeat at the hands of local rivals Norton & Stockton Ancients last October with a deserved but ultimately close-run 2-1 victory at the KGV on Saturday.
For much of the game, Guisborough dominated their bottom-of-the-table opponents but found it hard to convert their superiority into goals, with Norton often getting 10 or 11 men behind the ball to frustrate the Priorymen’s numerous attacks.
As a result, it took Guisborough almost three-quarters of the match before they finally took the lead in the 68th minute with a peach of a well-worked goal. Leading scorer Danny Earl turned the ball beautifully into the area where second top scorer Ste Snaith was on hand to neatly tuck the ball home from close in.
Then in the 79th minute Guisborough substitute Connor Smith made an immediate impact when his persistence in the penalty area created an opening for himself and he lashed the ball under Norton keeper Ryan Braithwaite into the far corner of the net to make it 2-0 to the Priorymen.
Plucky Norton refused to throw the towel in and battled right to the whistle and managed to reduce the arrears to 2-1 four minutes from time when Phillip Caley prodded the ball home from close range despite the brave efforts of Guisborough keeper Nick Liversedge to keep the ball out.
Earlier the woodwork came to the rescue of both sides – first Town’s Snaith hit the angle of post and bar with a fierce 20-yard shot in the 16th minute and then Norton left back Lewis Walton hit a 35-yard screamer five minutes after the interval which clipped the top of the bar. Lewis was named Norton’s man of the match.
The hard-earned victory maintained Guisborough’s grip on second place in the league but with leaders Shildon winning again and wins for Newton Aycliffe and Marske, there are still plenty of teams just below the Priorymen who are breathing heavily down their necks.
After the game, Guisborough Manager Steve ‘Dowlo’ Dowling reflected: “I thought we played well in the first half against a young and fit Norton side and probably should have been leading at half time by a couple of goals.
“We played some decent football and caused them a lot of problems particularly through Ste Snaith and Danny Earl, well supported by good work from Peter Bulmer and Curtis Round.
“The second half was a more even affair but I thought we would go on to win the game at 1-0 following an excellent goal created by Danny Earl and finished off by Snaith.
“Then after another good goal from ‘super-sub’ Connor Smith we should have killed the game off but conceded a late goal to give Norton the chance of a late point.
“However, we saw the game out to get back to winning ways. I went for Danny Earl as man of the match as I thought he was a constant threat all game and his unselfish running always helps the team enormously. Jordan Galloway also had another good game,” added Dowlo.
Apart from those players highlighted by manager Steve Dowling, there were other good performances right through the Guisborough team.
The central defensive pairing of Leon Carling and Andy May looked calm and assured throughout, with full backs Paul Roddam and Danny McWilliams providing great support as well as finding time to overlap well to bolster the attack.
Gary Wood had a fine game in midfield until substituted midway through the second half due to a recurrence of his troublesome hip problem, and he received a great round of applause from the appreciative KGV fans in the 192 crowd when he came off – some of his passing with the outside of his trusty left foot was a delight to watch and right out of the top drawer.
His replacement Chay Liddle injected fresh pace and penetration when he came on while another Town substitute, Connor Smith, looked hungry for the ball and scored the decisive second goal and came very close to a third for his team.
Photo: Danny Earl demonstrates just why his manager named him man of the match with another unselfish run up front. Pic by Yvonne Barker.