Guisborough Town 3, Consett 3 (Northern League – Division One)
Following on from their unbelievable midweek 4-5 home defeat against Seaham Red Star after leading 4-0 with less than half an hour to go, Guisborough Town restored some normality – and a not a little lost pride – when they fought out a fiercely competitive end-to-end 3-3 draw against Consett at the KGV on Saturday.
It was a topsy-turvy game throughout with the lead changing hands three times before Consett, staring defeat in the face, grabbed a controversial equaliser three minutes from time.
The late 87th minute leveller came from a Luke Sullivan header following a hotly-disputed corner when it looked very much like a Consett player had deflected the ball behind for what should have been a Guisborough goal kick.
Gutsy Guisborough could justifiably feel aggrieved at what seemed a harsh injustice after centre forward Matty Pennal looked to have sealed all three points for the Priorymen with a superb hat-trick.
Pennal led the forward line with great distinction and he followed up two excellent earlier goals with something of a fluke third goal in the 75th minute to complete his hat-trick – but it was no less than he deserved for a terrific and tireless performance which left him virtually out on his feet late on.
The 3-3 draw earned the Priorymen a precious point to end a run of three successive defeats which had sent Guisborough plummeting free-fall to fifth from bottom of the table.
And for Town’s tireless Manager Steve Dowling and his hard-working back-room team it must have been a great relief to see a point gained but also something of a disappointment it wasn’t all three points.
After the game Town boss Dowlo commented: “After a see-saw game I was just glad the lads got some reward for their efforts – albeit just the one point after Wednesday’s disappointment against Seaham.
“We started brightly against Consett and scored after only one minute and from then on the game was quite open and maybe Matty Pennal who scored our first should have increased our lead.
“Then a truly great save from Ryan Catterick, our on-loan keeper from Hartlepool, kept us in the lead until a good Consett free kick put the scores level shortly before half time.
“Then we conceded a second goal not long after half-time but another two goals from Pennal put us into the lead.
“But then a bizarre refereeing decision over a disputed corner late on robbed us of victory but that said there were plenty of positives from the team performance overall,
“In particular central defender Jamie Poole, who we have signed back on loan from Whitby, enjoyed an excellent game as did Ryan Catterick, a promising young 17 year old keeper that Hartlepool Manager Craig Hignett has loaned me with our regular keeper Ben Escritt struggling with a knee injury.
“Matty Pennal got a deserved hat-trick and fully merited his man of the match award from me,” added a happier Dowlo.
Pennal’s opening goal in fact came after just 52 seconds when a Thibault Charmey free kick from 25 yards out was blocked and the Frenchman hit a superb hard low shot from the rebound which Consett keeper Chris Elliott managed to push aside at full stretch.
But Jamie Poole, pushing forward, lifted the ball beautifully back across goal and Pennal volleyed in clinically near the far post.
Five minutes later as the game swung excitingly end to end Consett’s Lewis Teasdale headed against the bar and then on 17 minutes Pennal surged clear but Consett keeper used his left leg to block the Guisborough striker’s low hard shot.
On 24 minutes Consett mounted a dangerous attack which ended with home keeper Catterick pulling off a breathtakingly good point blank range reaction save from a Danny Craggs header.
Then Joe Ferguson was put through by the hard-working and highly-creative Thibault Charmey but his 32nd minute shot was well saved at the near post by Elliott.
On 39 minutes Leon Carling was penalised for a foul near the edge of the Guisborough penalty area and Craggs made the Priorymen pay dearly when he sent over a cleverly-flighted free kick to give Catterick no chance and send the teams in all square at 1-1 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half Consett took a 2-1 lead when the Guisborough defence failed to clear and Teasdale found the corner of the net with a well-directed header.
But the visitors’ lead last only nine minutes before Guisborough midfield general Gary Wood sent over a peach of a long range cross and Pennal rose majestically to head the ball home for 2-2 when it looked like the flight of the ball was going to take it beyond his reach.
Just two minutes later goal-making hero Wood was ridiculously booked in a classic case of mistaken identity for a foul on Consett sub Clark Kay who was clearly tripped by Wood’s midfield partner Chris Youldon.
The game was flowing entertainingly back and forth with both sides giving it a real go in search of the lead and Pennal headed over in the 67th minute when he should have scored and Gray did similarly two minutes later.
In the 75th minute, however, Guisborough regained the lead when Pennal completed his hat-trick when Wood hit another great penetrating ball forward and in a race to get to the ball first between Pennal and Consett keeper Elliott it was the latter who got the a split second ahead of Pennal. But the Consett keeper only succeeded in blasting the ball against Pennal’s heal and it ricocheted 25 yards back over the Consett goal-line to put Guisborough 3-2 ahead.
With the Guisborough faithful anxiously watching the clock Consett grabbed a controversial equaliser just three minutes from the end when a corner from the left looked to be deflected behind for what should have been a Guisborough dead ball kick.
But inexplicably the referee gave another corner to Consett and the ball was floated back over for Sullivan to rise and head home for 3-3 and break Guisborough hearts.
In a frantic finish Guisborough substitute Paul Blake saw a 25 yard snap shot well held by Elliott and at the other end Guisborough keeper Catterick pulled off a great save to tip the ball to safety and leave the scores level at 3-3.
There was, however, one final sting in the tale AFTER the final whistle as Guisborough’s players were doing their warm-down when midfielder Gary Wood, clearly still upset about his ‘wrong identity’ booking and the disputed corner, spoke out of turn and was shown the red card by the referee.
Guisborough Town: Catterick, Roddam, Weldon, Carling, Poole, Wood, McPhillips (sub Cocks 84 mins), Youldon (sub Blake 80 mins), Pennal, Charmey, Ferguson (sub Roberts 73 mins).
Photo: Guisborough’s hat-trick hero Matty Pennal in determined mood. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.