Guisborough Town 0, Washington 3 (Northern League Division One)
A succession of six missed gilt-edged chances in the first half cost Guisborough Town dearly as they lost their second successive home game against a Washington side reduced to 10 men after just 22 minutes.
The Priorymen played some superb attacking football in those first 45 minutes after the shock of going a goal down just two minutes into the game, but they were made to pay dearly for not taking advantage of some excellent approach play.
In the second half Guisborough just couldn’t reproduce their earlier penetration and found it hard to break down a massed and well-drilled Washington defence and it was the visitors who punished the Priorymen with two further ‘sucker punch’ goals to win comfortably and deservedly in the end.
Despite the disappointing defeat, coming soon after the previous weekend’s first 2-0 home league defeat against Bishop Auckland, Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling refused to be too hard on his players.
He reflected: “I cannot be over critical of the players who worked hard throughout the 90 minutes. “We dominated the first 45 and should have had at least a goal or two to show for all our high-tempo pressure.
“In the second half a well-organised Washington team defended in numbers and we struggled to break them down. Then we were caught with a sucker punch second goal which gave Washington even more to hold on to followed by a third goal late on which killed the game for us,” added a disappointed Dowlo.
Washington – just one place below Guisborough in the table before the start of the game – took a shock lead after only two minutes when Town ‘keeper Nick Liversedge appeared to be impeded when trying to catch a cross and the ball went loose to John Butler who fired home from close range.
Undaunted, Guisborough surged forward with wave after wave of thrusting attacks on the Washington goal but amazingly nothing to show for their efforts as the half-time whistle went.
Probably the best Guisborough chance of all fell to young Connor Smith in the 12th minute when he raced clear on to a defence-splitting through ball but he was probably too unselfish as he tried to square the ball across goal instead of shooting himself and the chance was lost.
AGONISINGLY OVER THE BAR
Then two minutes later Town’s leading scorer Danny Earl shot agonisingly over the bar from just a few yards out when you would normally have expected the striker to bury such a great chance – to be fair it looked like the ball took a bobble as Earl pulled the trigger.
Just a minute later an Earl cross found his strike partner Smith but his shot was well held by Washington keeper Josh Carmichael.
In the 22nd minute Washington were reduced to 10 men when Ross Preston was red-carded when he clipped the heels of Smith as the Guisborough striker raced clear on goal. The referee had no alternative but to send off the Washington captain.
From the resultant free kick a Danny McWilliams ‘special’ was tipped just over the bar by Carmichael.
On 33 minutes a Pete Bulmer left foot curler from the edge of the penalty area was well saved again by Carmichael and then five minutes before the interval chance number six went begging when a sizzling Curt Round shot from a good position cleared the Washington bar.
As the half-time whistle sounded, many in the crowd of 162 were left scratching their heads as to how the Priorymen had failed to score.
In the second half the nearest Guisborough came to getting back on terms was when a Smith lob eight minutes after the interval went just wide.
As it was, Washington hit Guisborough with a classic ‘sucker punch’ in the 53rd minute when McWilliams chested a cross into the path of Butler who made no mistake to score his second goal.
From then on Guisborough were frustrated in their efforts to reduce the arrears by a no-nonsense massed Washington defence. Guisborough’s lack of real height up front was exposed as a series of high crosses into the Washington box were cleared with relative ease by the big visiting defenders.
On the hour mark, Guisborough could count themselves unlucky when Ste Snaith – pushed up front to try and add some zip to the home attack – appeared to be tripped in the penalty area but instead of pointing to the spot referee Simon Porter booked Snaith for allegedly ‘diving’ after consulting his assistant. After the game Pete Bulmer, who was just behind Snaith when the incident happened, claimed there was no dive and that it should have been a “stone-wall” penalty.
With four minutes to go, Washington rubbed salt into the wounds of the Priorymen when substitute Mark Davison scored following a breakaway move. All in all a frustrating afternoon for Guisborough who were left to lament those missed first half opportunities.
Guisborough boss Dowlo named midfielder Chay Liddle as his Man-of-the-Match, citing that he was instrumental in much of Guisborough’s good play, particularly in the first half. A new innovation – at the suggestion of Guisborough match announcer Andy Baxter – to have a ‘Supporters Man-of-the-Match was tried out for the first time and full back Jonny Helm was the chosen player.
NORTH RIDING SEMI NEXT UP AGAINST ARCH RIVALS MARSKE!
Guisborough now turn their attentions to next Wednesday, 23 March for what will probably turn out to be a season-defining match when they entertain arch-rivals Marske United at the KGV in the semi-final of the North Riding Senior Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).
It will be the first of two clashes against Marske in the space of five days because the two sides will do battle again at Marske on Easter Monday, 28 March with an 11am kick-off.
Marske have hit an ominous run of form with six wins on the spin and Guisborough are likely to be without the services of midfielder Gary Wood who has a troublesome hip injury. Gary will have a fitness test midweek. Midfielder Chay Liddle will also be unavailable due to midweek work commitments (he’s a train driver) but apart from that Guisborough are likely to have a full squad available.
Guisborough Chairman Don Cowan has urged supporters and interested onlookers to get behind the Priorymen and to turn up in numbers for the North Riding Semi at the KGV Stadium on Wednesday.
“It should be a titanic battle between these two great old rivals, so can I appeal to all Guisborough supporters to get behind the team in these two crucial games against Marske,” commented Don.
Photo: High kicks – Guisborough’s Manager’s Man-of-the-Match Chay Liddle and a Washington defender both challenge for the ball. Pic by Yvonne Barker.