Penrith 4 Guisborough Town 1
Beneath the image of a castle that sits prominently at the top of Penrith Football Club’s badge are the Latin words ‘res non verba’. Roughly translated, it means ‘deeds not words’, or how we might more readily term it in modern speak – ‘Actions speak louder than words’. Before the game today there was lots of talk. The home side talked of getting their first points on the board. The visiting fans spoke of adding to their 4 points and were confident that a victory was more than possible. Yet Penrith appeared to have paid the greater heed to their club crest. Within minutes of the start they were a goal to the good as Street was given a cul de sac of space on the edge of the penalty area and fired across Dawson and into the corner. It was a genuine deja vu moment after conceding within two minutes on Wednesday against Dunston. Any plans that manager Gary Foster had put in place with his side had to be immediately torn up.
Against a Penrith side accustomed to sitting deep and counterattacking, even when at home, this was the worst possible start. Penrith were able to sit and contain and the Priorymen were forced to chase the game from the off. The outcomes of games, in all sports, often hinge on certain key moments or passages of play. Guisborough needed a goal to settle them. It looked as though their response was perfect as Maloney thundered a 30 yard free kick goal wards. The ball dipped and swerved but thundered off the crossbar. Six inches lower and Guisborough were level. Instead, within minutes Penrith were two up. Skilful play down the left by Wraighte resulted in a perfect square ball for Murray who could not miss from a yard out.
Penrith’s picturesque ground is flanked by the steep relief of the Cumbrian landscape, with a sizeable bank rising upwards behind the goal that the Priorymen were defending. The hill behind the goal became a metaphorical mountain on the pitch when two minutes later, Wraighte’s floated corner into a crowded box was headed, almost in slow motion, past Dawson into the bottom corner.
A three-nil half time deficit away from home was by no means unchartered territory for Guisborough. Twenty one days earlier the same scenario faced the Priorymen at Newton Aycliffe and they produced a stirring, rousing second half display to earn one point and almost take all three. This recent memory was perhaps used as a reference point during Gary Foster’s half-time team talk. There was no shortage of effort in either half, but a determined, stubborn Penrith side refused to give the visitors a clear foothold in the game. The game was bitty, Guisborough could not get their passing game going and the scrappy nature of the game was not helped by some lenient officiating after some robust challenges. Despite Guisborough controlling most of the possession, Penrith carried the greater goal threat. Wraighte, who was a menace on the flanks all game, crossed perfectly for Street to turn home and in effect, put the game to bed.
With twenty five minutes remaining Roberts was knocked to the floor in an off the ball incident and a penalty was awarded. No further punishment was given to the offending player, to much bemusement. When Steel stroked the ball home, there was a flickering of belief that Guisborough could stir memories of Newton Aycliffe and for five minutes afterwards, Guisborough had a concerted spell of pressure. But despite the effort and desire, too many players were out of kilter with each other, with moves breaking down and Penrith defending well, particularly the evergreen Will Paul at centre half. The Penrith defender seems to have been with the club forever. For the way that he marshalled his side as team captain and refused to allow Guisborough’s forward line time or space, he was a strong pick for man of the match.
This was an afternoon of pure, unadulterated frustration, with a feeling of what might have been had Guisborough defended more effectively in the first thirty minutes. Penrith fully merited the three points, leaving the Priorymen to lick their wounds on the journey back across the A66 to Teesside.
Dunston defeat, but a draw was deserved
Three days previously, Guisborough were edged out by three goals to two against travelling Dunston. A goal after just two minutes from the visitors and a second before the half hour mark again put Town on the back foot. On the stroke of half-time Guisborough were given a lifeline when Roberts was quickest to follow up Maloney’s spilled free-kick. If the first half belonged to a physical, energetic Dunston, the second half was almost all Guisborough. The Tyneside outfit struggled to cope with the pace of Roberts and within minutes of the re-start Guisborough were level when Roberts scored his sixth goal in less than three games. There then followed the best fifteen minute spell from Guisborough this year. They moved the ball quickly, ran at tiring Dunston defenders and on a different day could have gone several goals ahead. However, Dunston’s manager Chris Swailes was a tough, no nonsense defender who played at the very highest level with Ipswich Town. His team embodied this spirit and weathered the storm. They nicked the three points on 77 minutes with a well taken finish from Fitzpatrick, who comfortably looked Dunston’s best player with his direct running and goal threat.
This result was tough on Guisborough. It was a hard-fought, entertaining Northern League game. If the Priorymen can play like this every game, the results will come from Gary Foster’s young side.
The Northern League First Division is a difficult, challenging league. This is something that Stockton Town have discovered. Having comfortably won the Second Division title last season, they are without a point from their first six games. Make no mistake – they have some good players. Their desire to break their duck and Guisborough’s determination to bounce back quickly from a below-par performance adds extra spice to what promises to be a cracking Teesside clash on Wednesday 6th September (kick-off 7.45 pm) at Guisborough’s King George V Ground. On Saturday 9th September, Guisborough’s FA Vase campaign gets underway with a tricky tie away at Ryhope CW.
Photo: The Returning Lee Bythway, a welcome addition after long term injury, clears effectively.