South Shields 6, Guisborough Town 0 (Northern League – Division One)
Snatch of touchline conversation between two knowledgeable South Shields supporters at their game with the Priorymen on Saturday: “Whatever’s happened to Guisborough Town these days…they used to be such a good side and usually there or thereabouts around the top of the table.”
Telling comments indeed and, in the interests of giving the Shields supporters the facts, the Guisborough Town Press Officer standing next to them listed the quality players Town have haemorrhaged over the past two to three years:
Steve Snaith, Adam Gell, Callum Martin, Danny McWilliams, Andrew May, Curtis Round (all to Whitby Town and Round subsequently to Marske), Nick Liversedge (Shildon), Mikey Roberts (Spennymoor then Whitby), Danny Johnson (Cardiff City then Gateshead), Danny Earl and Pete Bulmer (both to Marske), Luke Bythway (Marske then Whitby), James Risbrough (Spennymoor then Marske), Leon Carling (Bishop Auckland), Chay Liddle (Billingham Synthonia) and Jonny Helm (off to USA to study).
That list is the equivalent of a full-sized squad of departing Guisborough players and is by no means exhaustive – but in a nutshell it answers the question posed by the two Shields supporters about what is behind Guisborough Town’s current demise.
“Ah yes,” commented one of the Shields fans, “we’d heard a lot quite a bit about you losing all your best players, particularly to your old manager at Whitby!”
Overall Guisborough have suffered the loss of the entire crucial spine of their team – goalkeeper, centre half, central midfielder and centre forward – as well as excellent players in other positions and no team can sustain that kind of wholesale change without consequences.
It is so hard on current Manager Steve Dowling and his team and also the Guisborough Town senior club officials, who have made Herculean efforts with many hours work and huge efforts trying to keep hold of their top players – but sadly in vain.
On top of all this upheaval the current season, which started brightly with a host of new faces in the Guisborough squad, has brought the most unprecedented injury crisis ever seen at the KGV,
The unbelievably bad run of injuries has resulted in not one but several selection crises which have seen manager ‘Dowlo’ having, by his own words, to “beg borrow and steal players” to make up the team and the subs’ bench.
The disruption to the squad has been palpable and, inevitably, has brought an alarming slide for Guisborough down to the very rock bottom of the league – and they are now seven points away from the safety of 19th place.
It is a sobering thought when you consider that last season Guisborough had around 13 or 14 players who completed at least 40 games over the season whereas this year they will be lucky if as many as two players manage that many games.
Despite this very difficult situation, however, it is hard not to feel a sense of real sympathy for Dowlo and his team who in the face of such adversity have shown a largely admirable attitude and as in the heavy defeat at Shields yesterday they have kept battling to the end.
The cost from yesterday’s game at South Shields was not only the loss of another three points, the ugly face of the Guisborough’s injury curse reared its head yet again with three players having to leave the field with bad injuries – Matty Pennal, Chris Youldon and Dave Onions.
After the Shields game, Town Manager Dowlo commented: “All our plans for yesterday’s game went out of the window as we conceded three early goals to a very good and mobile South Shields team.
“Once again we were missing several first team players such as Bligh, Roberts, McPhillips and Hawkes but it was the start of the match that really killed us with three Shields goals inside the first 15 minutes.
“Then we conceded a very dubious 35th minute penalty and although our keeper James Dawson made a great save from Shields’ ex-Sunderland and Boro star Julio Arca’s spot kick, Arca then reacted quickest to put rebound away.
“The second half was more of a match and after more injuries forced us into making three substitutions with Ardulean, McAvoy and Blake coming on – we showed more drive and mobility.
“Despite the scoreline we had some good performances from defenders Harrison Scott and returning old boy Lee Bythway. I gave Chris Youldon my man of the match for his non-stop effort and running,” added Dowlo.
The huge importance of Guisborough’s next league game away to 18th placed Ryhope CW on Tuesday, 22 November cannot be underestimated – it is a MUST win match.
But already three days before the Ryhope fixture Town are likely to be missing Tom Bligh, Steve Roberts, Liam McPhillips and Hawkes and doubtful is Matty Pennal. Town boss Dowlo is hopeful Dave Onions and Chris Youldon will be fit again but Joe Ferguson and Connor Smith might not be available due to work commitments so Dowlo is working on bringing another player in by Tuesday.
For a change, meanwhile, instead of a written summary of the South Shields match action, please see the club’s media specialist Ian Rose’s excellent footage of the key highlights of the game by clicking on the You Tube link…
Photo: Guisborough midfielder Chris Youldon once again in the thick of the action with ex-Sunderland and Boro star Julio Arca (right) looking on. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.