Guisborough Town 2, Sunderland RCA 2 (Northern League – Division One)
A last-ditch equaliser by Liam ‘Macca’ McPhillips earned Guisborough a much-needed morale-boosting draw and a precious point against an RCA side reduced to 10 men after only 19 minutes at the KGV on Saturday.
The red-card incident came when Sunderland ‘keeper Neal Bussey rushed out of his penalty area and tripped Connor Smith as the Guisborough striker rounded him and prepared to shoot into an empty net but lost his footing under the challenge.
Referee Elliot Heward from Malton had no hesitation in giving Bussey his marching orders, although many KGV faithful would have preferred it if Smith had gone on to score.
As it was – and as so often happens when a team is reduced to 10 men – it was RCA who looked the better side for the majority of the first half despite their numerical disadvantage.
And they fully deserved to take the lead in the 34th minute when Liam McBridge managed to squeeze the ball over the goal-line despite desperate attempts by two Guisborough defenders to keep it out.
It was no less than RCA deserved as they had made light of being a man down and caused Guisborough all sorts of problems with the kind of fluent passing play that is normally the Priorymen’s’ trademark.
However, against the run of play Guisborough equalised almost on the stroke of half time when an Adam Cocks in-swinging corner was glanced home by midfielder McPhillips to make it 1-1.
Up against 10 men and with an equaliser just before the break, Guisborough’s fans fully expected to see their side build on this boost in the second half. But with the Priorymen still looking short on confidence following two successive defeats it was RCA who continued to make the running.
And the Wearsiders regained the lead on 59 minutes when their skipper Clayton Davis gave Guisborough ‘keeper Ben Escritt no chance when he drilled home into the corner of the net from 15 yards.
RCA had further good opportunities to make the game safe but squandered them and how they were made to pay when in the 89th minute Town substitute Steve Roberts rounded RCA left back Reece Noble but was crudely brought down as he headed menacingly towards the RCA penalty area.
Noble was rightly booked for his ‘professional’ foul and Roberts hauled himself up to take the resultant free kick about 25 yards out on the right. His quite superb swerving cross was headed into the goal by the onrushing Liam McPhillips for his second goal of the game and a crucial one at that to earn the Priorymen a point from a 2-2 draw.
It was tough on RCA who had played extremely well despite being a man down but for Guisborough it was a tremendous relief to finally avoid defeat in their third successive home game and hopefully this will give the side a platform to kick-start their season again.
The 8-0 home defeat by North Shields has clearly and understandably affected the players psychologically and so to claw back level against RCA yesterday must be a massive relief to the players and help to stop the rot.
And with star men T Charmey and Pete Bulmer available again after their three match suspensions happier times are hopefully around the corner for the Priorymen.
Certainly the Priorymen couldn’t face a tougher task with a visit to league champions Shildon next up on Wednesday, 14 September.
After the game Guisborough Town Manager Steve Dowling commented: “Yesterday’s game was another rather frustrating afternoon for all concerned. I thought we were somewhat lucky in the end to steal a point.
“And strange as it sounds the sending off of the RCA keeper actually affected us more than Sunderland as they defended deep and caught us on the break with two avoidable goals from poor defending on our part.
“Also Connor Smith sustained an injury in the incident with their goalkeeper and I would much rather Connor had scored and the keeper stayed on the field.
“As I’ve said many times already this season is one of transition. But credit to my players they never gave up against RCA and the introduction of Steve Roberts injected a bit more life into our play and his excellent free kick was headed home by my man of the match Liam McPhillips in the dying seconds to rescue us a point,” added Dowlo.
Guisborough Town (v Sunderland RCA): Escritt, Roddam, Oldfield (sub Roberts 68 mins), Carling, Galloway, Weldon, McPhillips, Cocks (sub Blake 74 mins), Helm, Smith (sub Pennal 39 mins), Bligh. Attendance: 102.
Photo: Guisborough left back Scott Oldfield (front foreground) tussles intently for the ball. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.