2013/14: Skrill Conference North – Guiseley AFC v Colwyn Bay
On 05 October 2013 Guiseley AFC slumped to a 4-1 defeat at Altrincham and after 10 games of the 2013/14 season they had just 8 points. Thoughts of a fourth successive trip to the Conference North Play-Offs must have seemed a very distant dream for The Lions.
Following that defeat at Altrincham, Guiseley didn’t lose another league game in 2013 and went eleven games unbeaten. There then followed a three game losing streak as defeats were suffered against Barrow, AFC Telford United and Worcester City. Following that sequence of losses Guiseley went on a thirteen game unbeaten stretch, which was only broken last Saturday by a 3-2 defeat at Hednesford Town, although The Lions were 2-0 ahead in the first-half. They immediately bounced-back in midweek defeating Harrogate Town 2-0 which left them in a Play-Off spot with three games remaining.
Today mid-table Colwyn Bay were the visitors to Nethermoor, hoping to spoil the day of Guiseley central defender, Danny Ellis, who was making his 400th appearance for the club. And for the opening forty five minutes the side from North Wales more than held their own. The Seagulls were solid at the back and in midfield and created the one real chance of the opening half, when Rob Hopley had his effort brilliantly pushed over the bar by Guiseley keeper Steve Drench.
Into the second-half, things got even better for the visitors when on fifty seven minutes, they were awarded a penalty, for a foul by Danny Ellis, which was hotly disputed by the home team. James Ellison stepped up and comfortably sent Drench the wrong way to give Bay a 1-0 advantage. Within minutes Guiseley manager Mark Bower decided to make a change, with Danny Forrest making way for Oli Johnson. It proved to be an inspired substitution as Johnson caused problems for the Colwyn Bay defence from the moment he came onto the pitch.
On sixty six minutes Johnson ran at and beat two defenders before crossing for Adam Boyes, who slotted home despite the efforts of the defender on the line. Guiseley now looked a different team as they pressed forward with more purpose. They were rewarded on seventy two minutes when a clearance fell to Gavin Rothery who drifted wide of the defender and shot low into the left hand corner past Sanna.
Now 2-1 ahead the home side went in search of a third goal with man of the match Oli Johnson driving them forward. Chris Sanna in goal for The Seagulls was outstanding in the last fifteen minutes as he made three excellent saves to deny two goal-bound efforts from Boyes and one from Rothery. The Lions had been slow to get into the game, but by the whistle, fully deserved the three points.
Guiseley all but assured a place in the Play-Offs with this win, as rivals Boston United could only draw at Leamington. It leaves the men from Nethermoor just needing two points from their remaining two games starting with an away trip on Easter Monday to relegated Workington and finishing at home to Gloucester City next Saturday. North Ferriby United and AFC Telford United are battling for the title and the one automatic promotion spot; the loser will join three from, Boston United, Guiseley, Altrincham and Hednesford in the Play-Offs.
What seemed like a lost season back in October is still alive six months later and maybe, just maybe, that dream of Conference Premier football at Nethermoor will finally be realised.