Guisborough Town 3, West Allotment Celtic 3 (EBAC Northern League Division One)
With virtually the last kick of a dramatic game, a 35-yard pile-driver from super-sub Paul Blake salvaged a vital point for Guisborough Town in their crucial relegation battle against fellow strugglers West Allotment Celtic at the KGV on Saturday.
The old footballing adage that “It’s a funny old game” was fully borne out by the fact that out of the whole 97 minutes played, just seven minutes had a crucial bearing on the final outcome of this dramatic game.
West Allotment had cruised into a 3-1 lead by the end of the normal 45 minutes of the first half and looked set to take a commanding lead into the interval.
But inside the space of just three minutes added time before half-time Guisborough pulled a goal back to 3-2 and then West had their dangerous centre forward Dale Pearson sent off for a second bookable offence.
Then after 10-man West had survived a second half onslaught from the Priorymen and looked to be heading for a 3-2 victory, Guisborough substitute Paul ‘Coy’ Blake let fly with a sparkling 30-yard shot in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time and the ball flew into the far corner of the net for a memorable equalising goal.
It was a little tough on depleted West who had battled hard throughout the second half to keep Guisborough at bay despite their numerical disadvantage but it was a vital goal from Blake, who is anything but ‘coy’ when it comes to stepping up and scoring important late goals for the Priorymen, who finally puts smiles back on the usually luckless Guisborough faces.
When the teams kicked-off again the referee blew for time almost immediately and, who knows, Blake’s goal might well just re-ignite the injury-jinxed Priorymen’s season after a frustrating run of six successive defeats.
After the game, Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling commented: “It was a big relief to get a point in the end from today’s game, which I thought we deserved.
“In the first half we conceded two very sloppy goals but a goal by Thibault just before half-time was so important to get us back in the game at 3-2.
“In the second half against 10 men, we dominated possession but failed to create or convert any real chances until young Paul Blake rifled in a 30-yard screamer to rescue a point for us.
“I cannot fault my lads’ effort today, but I just thought we lacked a bit of quality at times. Both my full backs played well with Harrison Scott being the pick of the team and worthy of my man of the match award.
“I also thought our Hartlepool loanee Josh Hawkes showed some nice touches in his first game for us, while Thibault Charmey, Davie Onions and Connor Smith also enjoyed good games,”added a relieved Dowlo.
In difficult and challenging conditions with a biting cold wind and driving rain at times, both sets of players deserved huge credit for putting on a highly competitive, end-to-end game of football.
Both sides went near to scoring in the opening half hour with West going the closest when they hit the post following a corner in the 13th minute.
But on 30 minutes West took the lead when full back Paul Stoneman put over a good cross and West’s Shaun Ready side-footed the ball home from close in.
Guisborough hit back just two minutes later to equalise at 1-1 when centre forward David Onions got the final touch following a superb Charmey corner to register his milestone 100th league and cup goal for Guisborough.
But Guisborough’s joy at getting back on terms was short-lived as on 35 minutes a defensive lapse saw the ball fall kindly to West centre forward Dale Pearson who rounded Town keeper James Dawson and slid the ball home into the empty net. It was a frustratingly soft goal for Guisborough to concede.
And at the end of normal first half time West went 3-1 up with a bizarre goal when Stoneman put over another good swerving cross from the right and Guisborough defender Paul Roddam tried to head the ball clear just inches from the ground and only succeeded in deflecting it past Dawson into the corner of the Guisborough net.
Nevertheless,the game turned on its head in three crazy minutes just before half-time when first in the second minute of time added on Thibault Charmey latched on to a loose ball in the West penalty area and clinically lashed the ball home to pull a goal back for Town at 2-3.
Then in the third minute of time added on, West goal hero Pearson was sent off for a second bookable offence when he appeared to go down too easily under a challenge in the Guisborough penalty area and was shown the red card to reduce West to 10 men.
After the interval the wind and rain got progressively worse but both sets of players continued to give it their all which was to their great credit.
However, for all their pressing, Guisborough were restricted mainly to long-range efforts most of which went either wide or over the bar.
Despite being down to 10 men, plucky West still managed to cause Guisborough problems at times as they mounted several attacks of their own.
With the game ebbing away for the Priorymen and West looking like they had secured a famous 3-2 away victory, Paul Blake was having none of that and – as he has done before on more than one occasion – he conjured up a glorious goal out of nothing with a rocket of a shot from at least 30 yards out which fairly flew into the far corner to earn Guisborough a priceless point from a last-gasp 3-3 draw.
The importance of ‘Coy’s’ equaliser cannot be under-estimated for had Guisborough lost the game they would have been four points behind West at the foot of the table but they kept the gap to just one point with Blake’s late spectacular leveller.
Guisborough Town: Dawson, Scott, Ferguson, Roddam, McPhillips, Wood (sub: Bath 40 mins), Charmey, Bligh (sub: Blake 75 mins), Smith, Hawkes (sub: Pennal 71 mins).
Photo: Guisborough centre forward Davie ‘Do’ Onions shows poise and balance worthy of ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ as he tussles with a West Allotment defender. KGV legend Onions went on to score his 100th league and cup goal in a Guisborough shirt later on. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.