Guisborough Town 4 Stockton Town 2 (Emirates FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round)
Guisborough Town earned themselves a plum home tie against Shildon in the next Preliminary Round of the Emirates FA Cup in a fortnight’s time when they knocked out Teesside neighbours Stockton Town 4-2 at the KGV on Saturday.
It was a typical cut and thrust, full-blooded cup tie with both sides going all out to win a place in the next round of the most famous cup competition in the world.
Although the final scoreline suggested Guisborough won comfortably in the end, newly-promoted Stockton pushed them all the way and on this showing they look like they will hold their own in Northern League’s top division this season.
They shocked Guisborough after just three minutes when Guisborough full back Tom Bligh, playing in an unaccustomed role due to the unavailability of the side’s two regular right backs, mistimed his tackle on Stockton winger Chris Stockton for a definite penalty – and up stepped Kallum Hannah to score from the spot.
But 20 minutes later Guisborough drew level when Nathan Steel – who led the forward line superbly well – made space for himself in the box and scored neatly into the corner.
And on 39 minutes Guisborough winger Louis Goldsack capped another fine display with a superbly-taken goal, beating the Stockton defence for pace to a through ball before cleverly lobbing the ball over Stockton keeper Liam Jordan to send the Priorymen into the interval 2-1 up.
After the interval, Stockton came out with renewed determination and they deservedly drew level on 51 minutes when Chris Stockton put over a pinpoint cross from the level and the unmarked Sonni Coleman headed home to make it 2-2.
Play swung fast and furious from end to end after that equaliser and Tom Bligh atoned for the penalty he conceded earlier when he kept his side level with a brilliant goal-line clearance in the 55th minute during a frantic goalmouth scramble.
But Guisborough kept their composure and just after the hour mark they went 3-2 in front with another excellent goal from Goldsack, who latched on to a loose ball bravely won by Guisborough left back Dylan McAvoy and Goldsack made space for himself before threading the ball with pinpoint accuracy into the far corner of the net.
Guisborough substitute striker Mason McNeill came on and looked very sharp before taking advantage of a sloppy Stockton thrown-in on 83 minutes to score a superb opportunist goal and make the game safe for Guisborough at 4-2.
The excellent crowd of 256 were treated to a real derby cup tie thriller – it wasn’t for the faint-hearted at times but both teams deserve great credit for giving their full commitment from start to finish.
All the goals and the thoughts of Guisborough Manager Gary Forster are included in Ian Rose’s excellent footage from the game… Priorymen TV.
After the game, Guisborough Manager Gary Forster was satisfied with the result but not entirely happy overall. He commented: “It was a cracking cup tie and I thought we deserved to win in the end but I was a little disappointed that we didn’t control the game better.
“Stockton tried to unsettle us with their direct style of play and they were a constant threat throughout the game.
“Our back four did well to marshal their lively forwards and in the end, it was nice to get a win under our belts in our first fully competitive game of the season.
“We’re always going to get teething problems early in the season but we’re getting there and I was happy with the result in the end,” said Gary.
He paid warm tribute to new striker Nathan Steel, saying: “He had a superb first half in particular, he led the line well and some of his hold-up play was really excellent.
“Then in the second half, the likes of Joe Ferguson, Louis Goldsack and Steve Roberts really came into it and caused the Stockton defence all kinds of problems.
“Louis, in particular, had an especially good game, he was lively and always a threat going forward. His two goals epitomised everything that is good about his play.”
Gary selected Nathan Steel as his Man of the Match, commenting: “I thought he had a particularly good first half and he made a massive contribution towards helping to turn the tide of the game in our favour.”
Guisborough start their league campaign on Tuesday, 8 August with a tough away fixture at West Auckland (KO 7.45 pm) then are on their travels against next Saturday, 12 August with another difficult game at Newton Aycliffe (KO 3 pm).