Guisborough Town 2, Bishop Auckland 1 (Northern League – Division One)
Guisborough Town climbed to 15th in the table with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Bishop Auckland at the KGV on Saturday which also clinched a league double over their County Durham rivals.
Another valuable three points have put the Priorymen a healthy nine points clear of the relegation zone and extended their current impressive unbeaten run to five games following their dramatic League Cup penalty shoot-out win over Northallerton in midweek.
The Bishops pushed Guisborough all the way on Saturday with a spirited second half display and the Priorymen had to dig deep and work hard for their victory.
But this current Guisborough side, despite still missing key players through long-term injury, is looking strong throughout the team and there were many impressive individual performances in an excellent all-round team effort.
Once again Guisborough’s wing wizard Steve Roberts showed his class with two goals of real quality. His first came after only six minutes when Mason McNeill hit a superb defence-splitting pass through to Roberts whose burst of speed took him to the ball first as Bishops’ goalkeeper Scott Pocklington rushed out and Roberts steered the ball into the empty net with a deft flick to the flick.
McNeill has been very impressive since getting more starts due to recent injuries which can only create more healthy competition for places in the team.
Bishops strove hard to get back into the game, but were restricted mainly to long high balls down the middle but with Guisborough centre backs Matty Lovatt and Matthew Crust commanding in the air there was little serious threat to the home goal.
Guisborough in fact came closest to increasing their lead when Roberts, with one of several marauding runs down the right, crossed beautifully for Nathan Steel, who once again led the line well with his physical presence, to run in but agonisingly his shot shaved the outside of the post.
In the second half, Bishops came out stronger and tested the Guisborough defence on several occasions but with full backs Dylan McAvoy and Brian Close – who had a particularly good game – ably supporting their centre backs the Bishops were kept at bay. Midfielders Mark Robinson and Ben Hugill got through a lot of hard work and tough tackling.
And Guisborough goalkeeper Jordan Nixon was in great form when called upon, a near point blank reflex stop midway through the second half preserving his side’s lead.
It was Guisborough who increased their lead in the 58th minute with an absolutely superb
goal. Ben Hugill and Louis Goldsack combined to win the ball out on the left and Goldsack clipped over a peach of a looping cross to the far right.
Roberts steamed in and from what looked like an impossible angle almost on the by-line Guisborough’s leading scorer struck a superb volley and the ball scorched home into the far corner to give the Priorymen a two-goal cushion.
Although Roberts deservedly got the plaudits for a memorable strike, Goldsack had created the goal superbly and he once again looks back to his brilliant best following his recent injury problems.
To their credit Bishops never gave up and their efforts were rewarded in the 72nd minute when a long cross from the left found centre back Ibrahim Hassan 12 yards out in the Guisborough penalty area and he rose high to head home powerfully, despite Nixon’s valiant diving effort to keep the ball out.
After that Guisborough kept their composure and rarely looked in danger of surrendering their lead and Roberts went close to completing his hat-trick late on.
The win maintained Guisborough’s recent improvement and progression up the table and the healthy crowd of 170 was the fifth highest attendance of the day in the Northern League.
The hard work of Town Manager Gary Forster and his backroom team is paying handsome dividends and they deserve huge credit for the recent consistent improvement – and this is despite being without long-term absentees Bradley Mills, Joe Ferguson and now Lewis Maloney.
Guisborough Town 4, Northallerton Town 4
(Guisborough win 3-2 on penalties – Northern League Cup 2nd Round)
Guisborough Town progressed to the third round of the Northern League Cup at the KGV on Wednesday when they knocked out high-flying Division Two leaders Northallerton Town on penalties after an incredibly dramatic final few minutes.
Guisborough looked to be cruising into the next round after Connor Smith scored a great goal to put his side 3-1 up in the 73rd minute. Mason McNeill and Steve Roberts had scored the Priorymen’s other two goals earlier.
But Northallerton shocked Guisborough with three goals in the last 10 minutes from Martin, Dickinson and Ramsbottom in the 81st, 87th and 91st minutes to go 4-3 up.
With time ebbing away up popped Guisborough’s former Northallerton defender Matty Lovatt in the 95th minute to stab the ball home from Dylan McAvoy’s cross to send the tie to penalties which Guisborough won narrowly 3-2.
It was a pulsating finale and rich reward for the 119 spectators who turned out on a cold night to witness all the drama. The only real downside for Guisborough was a nasty injury to Guisborough’s livewire midfielder Lewis Maloney, who had to have five stitches in a gashed leg and is likely to be out for at least a month – though the injury itself was not as bad as first feared.
Photo: Guisborough striker Mason McNeill (second from left) shows great determination as he bursts through the Bishops defence. Pic courtesy of Dan Clark.