Relegation Lifeline For Priorymen

West Auckland Town 2, Guisborough Town 4 (Northern League Division One)

Guisborough Town hauled themselves off the bottom of the table and gave themselves a precious lifeline against relegation with a terrific 4-2 win away at 10-man West Auckland on Saturday.

And to further boost the Priorymen’s hopes, all the results of other teams fighting the drop in the bottom five couldn’t have gone better for Guisborough.

Guisborough are without a midweek game next week but they must be itching to get at next Saturday’s opponents in another relegation showdown at the KGV against struggling Penrith, who were hammered 7-0 at home yesterday to slide further into the drop zone.

In a ‘must-win’ clash at West yesterday, two goals from exciting wingman Steve Roberts and another goal from Louis Goldsack and a penalty from Dave Onions sealed a superb 4-2 victory in a game which the Priorymen never looked like losing.

Guisborough went ahead after just seven minutes with a deflected effort from Goldsack which looped over the West ‘keeper Lewis Graham.

Then on 38 minutes Guisborough doubled their lead to 2-0 when Anthony Snook won the ball in midfield and played through to Goldsack who in turn put Roberts in to slot past West ‘keeper Graham.

Five minutes later West suffered a major blow when keeper Graham was sent off for handling the ball outside the penalty area.

However the game turned on its head right on half-time when 10-man West won a penalty and Craig Ruddy slotted home from the spot to make it 1-2 to Guisborough as the half-time whistle blew on an incredibly eventful half.

And the drama showed no sign of letting up as seven minutes after the interval Guisborough were awarded a penalty and Onions converted from the spot to restore Guisborough’s two-goal cushion at 1-3.

But West refused to give up and in the 73rd minute they pulled it back to 2-3 when Kerry Hedley beat Guisborough keeper Jordan Nixon following a Ross Gardner free kick.

With nerves jangling on both sides and not least the fans in a crowd of 112, Guisborough restored their two-goal lead in the 74th with a great goal from the impressive Steve Roberts who latched on to the ball out on the wing, cut inside and fired a low, powerful shot into the net to make it 2-4 to the Priorymen, much to the relief of players, fans and officials alike.

And that’s how the scoreline stayed to the end to bring Guisborough their first win in 11 games and three crucial points which lifted them two places off the bottom spot into 20th place, seven points behind safety and Washington who, however, have a game in hand.

Guisborough Manager Gary Forster was clearly delighted with the victory which is deserved reward for the hard work he and his staff have put in over the past few weeks and the players who are now starting to look a much more settled unit all round.

After the game, Gary commented: “We needed that victory so much and we also need the other teams around us not to pick up points, which is exactly what happened in the league yesterday.

“We have several games coming up against teams near us in the table such as Penrith twice, Chester-le-Street and West Allotment so if we can put a run of form together and keep picking up points then we will give ourselves a realistic outside chance of avoiding relegation.

“The current squad we have has, I firmly believe, massive potential, regardless of what division we are in and hopefully, by continuing our improving form and with a bit of good fortune we may just be able to do it,” added Gary.

He continued: “I thought Jamie Poole was our deserved man of the match yesterday – in a team full of good performances he set the tone perfectly of how we wanted to play.”

Guisborough’s famous victory yesterday wasn’t without costs, however, with injury concerns emerging for Lee Bythway and skipper and goalkeeper Jordan Nixon, who sustained a groin injury. Jordan will receive treatment next week on the troublesome groin but fortunately in James Dawson Guisborough have a more than capable deputy ‘keeper.

Photo: Guisborough’s talisman striker Dave Onions (right) shows all the determination in the world to wrestle control of a difficult bouncing ball. Pic courtesy of Yvonne Barker.