Guisborough Town 2, Whitley Bay 1 (Northern League – Division One)
Gallant Guisborough Town dug deep to put on a brave and battling display to earn their first win in 13 games against Whitley Bay at the KGV Stadium on Saturday and themselves off the bottom of the table for the first time in weeks.
The manager-less Priorymen looked set for another difficult afternoon as the Bay raced into a 1-0 lead after only five minutes when sloppy play in midfield allowed Alex Kempster to burst through and beat Guisborough ‘keeper James Dawson who had been left woefully unprotected.
The KGV faithful must have feared the worst as a fast and strong-looking Bay side controlled the opening 20 minutes but failed to capitalise further on their superiority, thanks mainly to some excellent goalkeeper by Dawson.
And after 27 minutes the Priorymen equalised in style as midfielder Gary Wood, enjoying a fine game, put through an inch-perfect defence-splitting pass with that trusty left foot and Connor Smith sprinted through and just beat Bay ‘keeper Thomas Flynn to the ball to side-foot the ball home from just inside the penalty area.
It was a wonderfully-worked goal and the relief both around the ground and among the Guisborough players on the field was palpable. And it lifted Guisborough’s play noticeably as they visibly gained in confidence along with the upper hand and they went so close to taking the lead on the half hour when another great ball by Wood down the right set up Sam Orritt, a highly impressive new loan signing from Bishop Auckland, whose superb cross just needed a final touch from Smith. So the teams went in level at 1-1 at half-time.
A rejuvenated Guisborough came out in the second half and continued to do most of the pressing and they came close to taking the lead midway through the half when a 25-yard free kick from left back Joe Ferguson was well held by Flynn.
But barely a minute later the Guisborough players and fans went wild with delight when ton-up man David Onions peeled away beautifully from his marker to chase another brilliant ball from Wood. Onions took the ball to the by-line, cut inside and threaded the ball beautifully from a tight angle into far corner of the net…and the KGV erupted as if Town had won the league!
Afterwards a delighted Onions, who ran his legs off from beginning to the end of the match, tweeted: “Boom…we’ve had some lows in football recently but today was a massive high. The lads were fantastic on an emotional afternoon. Let’s go now Guisborough Town!”
Guisborough caretaker manager, who took charge of Town for the day along with team coach Chris Fairless, was also a happy man after the game and commented: “I thought we started slowly, going behind after just five minutes,
but we eventually settled into the game and got a deserved equaliser through Connor Smith.
“Before the game we’d discussed about pressing higher up the field and I thought we executed our game plan very well for the full 90 minutes.
“Whitley Bay are well organised and one of the better sides in the league and it important to stop their back four from coming up field and thus pressing and frustrating them.
“I thought our energy levels were right where they should be and the tempo was a lot higher than of late and our players again carried out our game plan very well indeed.
“Bay only had half chances and we caught them on the break three or four times, one occasion resulting in David Onions scoring a fine deciding goal.
“I thought Chris Youldon, Connor Smith, David Onions and Sam Orritt were a constant menace especially when battling for possession. I thought this helped our back four and middle two who were left to get on with their roles because of this. I gave my Man of the Match to Jamie Poole for a solid performance along with Lee Bythway. I was also impressed with Same Orritt – his positional awareness and boundless energy was a major factor for us.”
Davey, who has been a Guisborough stalwart through and through for many years, both as a player and on the coaching side, has sadly decided not to throw his hat into the new managerial ring due to increasing work commitments,
He commented: “This was my last game and I found it hard to tell the players this when they were on such a high after the great result against Bay.
“I’d like take this opportunity to thank everyone at Guisborough for making me feel so welcome over the past years and my special thanks to all the players past and present for all the kind words they have said to me.
“The current players are a good bunch and it’s hard to walk away. My sincere thanks to former manager Steve Dowling and team physio Ste Collins for all the hard work they’ve put in this season. I can’t thank the players enough for their efforts this season despite the enormous odds we’ve faced with injuries and losing some of our best players. But especially for the winning finale against Bay today, it was an absolute pleasure,” added Davey.
Guisborough Town (v Whitley Bay): Dawson, Roddam (capt), Ferguson, Wood, Bythway, Poole, Orritt, Blake, Onions (sub Bath 73 mins), Youldon, Smith (sub Roberts 59 mins).
While it was great for the players, fans and officials of Guisborough Town alike to enjoy a rare opportunity to celebrate a memorable victory, there are still mounting issues for the club in terms of more injuries and possible player comings and goings, not to mention the need to fill the current managerial vacancy following the resignation of Steve Dowling.
Frenchman Thibault Charmey informed the club yesterday that he is leaving due to the fact that he has landed a plum job in Newcastle working for global company Microsoft as a recruitment manager. ‘T’ as he has become fondly known by many at the KGV was going to be sidelined for at least three weeks anyway because of a complex broken arm he suffered at Ryhope CW in midweek, but now the strong demands of his new job and the additional travel involved with being based on Tyneside has forced him to reluctantly end his contract at Guisborough. The club wishes him very well indeed for the future.
Guisborough are keen to appoint a new manager as soon as possible but they are not going to be rushed into things. Club Chairman Don Cowan says there has been very strong interest in the vacancy but the club wants to make sure it gives appropriate time and due consideration in making the right decision for the future. As soon as a final decision is made the Club will make an official announcement.
Meanwhile, the Priorymen face a mouth-watering North Riding Senior Cup First Round tie at the KGV next Wednesday, 30 November (KO 7.45pm) when former Town Manager Chris Hardy brings his high-flying Whitby Town side to Guisborough.
Photo: You can’t keep Guisborough goal-scoring hero Dave (‘Do’) Onions out of the picture as he shows great poise and balance up front. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.