Guisborough Town 2, Morpeth 2 (Ebac Northern League – Division One)
A re-shaped Guisborough Town demonstrated that they can compete with the best as they held title leaders Morpeth Town to a thrilling 2-2 draw at the KGV Stadium on Saturday.
It was a fascinating tussle but Guisborough, with new signing Brian Close adding some much-needed experience to the side, showed great resilience and determination against a top side.
The proud Priorymen never gave up hope and were rewarded when midfielder Lewis Maloney scored dramatic equaliser with literally the last kick of the game in the 94th minute.
It was much-deserved reward for Guisborough and a valuable point which keeps them two clear of the relegation zone and it sparked scenes of almost unprecedented and unbridled joy at the KGV.
Afterwards Guisborough Manager Gary Forster was understandably delighted both with the performance and the hard-earned point and commented: “I was very proud indeed of the lads today.
“They kept going right to the end against the top team in the league currently and the late goal from Lewis crowned a very good display by ourselves. To hold the league leaders like that is by no means an easy task but the boys stuck to it right to the final whistle,” he purred.
After a first-half stalemate during which they both created chances and soaked up a lot of Morpeth pressure, Guisborough shocked the league leaders by taking the lead in the 51st minute when defender Lee Bythway headed home. Amazingly it was the first goal Guisborough had scored against the Highwaymen in 321 minutes’ play over previous games.
The lead, however, was short-lived as Guisborough’s old Achilles heel of being unable to preserve a lead for long was in evidence once again as Morpeth striker Liam Henderson headed his side level in the 58th minute.
Then just four minutes later Wayne Phillips put Morpeth 2-1 in the lead, lashing the ball home from 12 yards.
Both sides then went all out for the next goal and Morpeth missed several chances, primarily through Sean Taylor, to put the game beyond Guisborough’s reach.
But with time slipping away and another defeat for the Priorymen looking likely, up stepped Maloney to score with a daisy-cutter of a free kick to send Guisborough’s players and fans alike into raptures and spark wild celebrations.
Guisborough’s scheduled next game against Whitley Bay on Wednesday, 27 September has had to be postponed due to the Bay drawing in their FA Vase tie against Billingham Synthonia on Saturday.
Ironically, Synthonia will be the next visitors to the KGV when they meet Guisborough in an eagerly-anticipated league ‘derby’ on Saturday, 30 September (KO 3pm).
Photo: Guisborough’s highly-rated winger Steve Roberts, who made his debut the previous night for Middlesbrough Reserves against Stoke City at Bishop Auckland’s ground.