2014/15: Vanarama Conference North – Guiseley AFC v Gainsborough Trinity


Coming into this game after four league fixtures, The Lions sat in second place in the table with ten points, having won three games (1-0 v Leamington [A], 3-0 v Stockport County [H], 1-0 v Worcester City [H]) and a draw (0-0 v AFC Fylde [A]). Visitors Gainsborough Trinity were in seventeenth place with four points after a win (1-0 v Hednesford Town [H]), two losses (v Barrow AFC 3-1 [A], v Brackley Town 3-2 [A]) and a draw (0-0 v Lowestoft Town [H]).

Match Report:

Guiseley AFC (0) 1 – 3 (2) Gainsborough Trinity

Guiseley: A. Holdsworth (62)

Gainsborough Trinity: T. Davie (27), C. Bateson (39), C. Higginson (68).

Guiseley warm-up before kick-off

Under a grey sky and in squally showers, Gainsborough kicked-off this Bank Holiday fixture at Nethermoor. Almost immediately the action was halted as Guiseley centre-back Danny Ellis needed treatment for a knock to the head. With play restarted Gainsborough quickly settled into a solid looking 4-5-1 formation and were neat in possession in the opening five minutes.

However, it was Guiseley who created the first chance of the game, when good work from Nicky Boshell provided a decent shooting opportunity for Jake Lawler. This spurred the home side to dominate with full-back Alex McQuad getting forward down the left whenever possible, which in the opening quarter of an hour produced efforts on goal for Adam Boyes, Nicky Boshell and Gavin Rothery, although none troubled visitors keeper Mike Emery.

Gainsborough also had a sight of goal on fifteen minutes when Tom Davie did well out wide before firing a shot narrowly wide of the Guiseley goal. However, it was the home side who continued to press with Boyes and Nicky Boshell combining well to create shooting opportunities for each other as the game approached the twenty minute mark.

With the weather conditions not improving, the immaculate green surface was becoming greasy and a few sliding challenges were inevitable. From one such tackle Trinity’s Ciaran Toner was booked on twenty one minutes and he may feel a tad unlucky to have received a yellow card given the circumstances.

Gainsborough Trinity warm-up prior to kick-off

As the game reached mid-point in the half, The Lions continued to apply more pressure on the Trinity defence, with Alex McQuad continuing to be a dangerous outlet down the left flank. On twenty four minutes, Guiseley came very close to taking the lead when a shot from Danny Boshell hit the post with Trinity keeper Emery rooted to the spot. At this point Gainsborough weren’t helping themselves as they too often conceded possession.

However, on twenty seven minutes it was Guiseley who gave the ball away which allowed Trinity to break and Tom Davie struck a fine shot into the corner, which Steve Drench could not keep out despite getting a hand to the drive from the young forward to give the visitors the lead. To their credit the home side responded and on the half-hour mark Gainsborough keeper Mike Emery was brave in coming out and taking the ball at the feet of Adam Boyes as the Guiseley forward chased through.

Trinity though continued to work hard in all areas of the pitch, typified by forward Curtis Bateson, on-loan from Scunthorpe United, who created a chance for himself cutting inside before shooting over the bar. The visitor’s efforts were further rewarded on thirty nine minutes, when a cleverly weighted Ciaran Toner pass split the Guiseley centre-backs, where Bateson coolly finished past Drench, to put Trinity 2-0 ahead. Indeed Gainsborough were finishing the half stronger and after The Lions gifted possession once more, Tom Davie was given another sight of goal, although this time his effort was straight at Drench. Guiseley were struggling at this point and couldn’t wait for the half-time whistle.

However the agony was extended as there were three minutes of time added-on at the end of the first-half, which saw Guiseley desperately try and grab a goal before the break. However, despite seeing plenty of the ball they were unable to fashion a chance with a through ball which ran away from Adam Boyes on the wet surface, summing up a miserable opening forty five minutes for the home team.

There was no let-up in the wet and windy conditions as the players emerged for the second-half. Guiseley kicked-off, attacking the Otley Road end and were immediately on the front-foot with Nicky Boshell having a header that flashed wide. However, Trinity continued with their organised approach as in the opening half, as Lobjoit, Bateson and Davie continued to work hard up front and earned the visitors a corner on fifty minutes.

Guiseley though dominated the play for the next ten minutes with plenty of possession, but without creating a telling chance. With an hour gone The Lions manager Mark Bower was aware that he had to shake things up and introduced midfielder Jack Stockdill on fifty eight minutes and forward Oli Johnson three minutes later. The changes provided the breakthrough demanded by the home fans, as captain Andy Holdsworth fired in a curling left-foot shot beyond Emery. Suddenly Guiseley were back in the game and the crowd sensed that maybe an equaliser was possible.

However, that optimism was short-lived. On sixty eight minutes the visitors made their first substitution of the game as Connor Higginson replaced Billy Lobjoit. It proved to a masterstroke from Trinity boss Steve Housham as immediately Curtis Bateson got down the left and his cross was fired in at the far post by substitute Higginson with his first touch. However, this was pretty much the last action for Bateson as on seventy three minutes he limped off, replaced by Grant Roberts.

Second-half: Trinity on the attack.

As the game entered the last fifteen minutes, Guiseley manager Mark Bower made his last substitution as Wayne Brooksby was replaced by Danny Forrest. It nearly paid dividends as Danny Ellis had a towering header turned round the post by Emery on seventy nine minutes. The Trinity keeper was in action again just two minutes later having to make a double save as Oli Johnson looked to slot home from the initial save. However, Gainsborough were holding firm and although Guiseley striker Adam Boyes had another chance five minutes from time, his header was wide and the home fans sensed it was not going to be their day.

With ninety minutes up, Trinity had five minutes of time added-on to negotiate before they could claim the three points. In the first of those the visitors had a chance to score a fourth, but after a good run the shot from Tom Davie lacked power and was easily gathered by Drench in the Guiseley goal. Despite it being a lost cause, The Lions continued to press and they created a chance on ninety four minutes when Gavin Rothery had room in the box to get a shot off, however as with much of the Guiseley’s efforts on the day, it came to nothing.

At the whistle, Gainsborough players and fans celebrated a well-earned three points after a thoroughly professional performance, whilst for Guiseley their unbeaten start to the season was over.

Guiseley: S. Drench, A. Holdsworth (c), A. McQuade (J. Stockdill [58]), B. Parker, D. Ellis, J. Lawler, W. Brooksby (D. Forrest [77]), D. Boshell, A. Boyes, N. Boshell (O. Johnson [61]), G. Rothery. Substitutes not used: R. Toulson, S. Dickinson.

Gainsborough Trinity: M. Emery, D. Roma (c), J. Lacey, C. Binns, A. Quinn, J. Picton, S. Russell, C. Toner, B. Lobjoit (C. Higginson [68]), C. Bateson (G. Roberts [73]), T. Davie. Substitutes not used: L. Davis, C. Salt, N. Plumtree.

Attendance: 572

Post-match interviews:

Courtesy of David Granger, Gainsborough Standard.

David Granger (DG): So pretty much a perfect away performance.

Steve Housham (SH) Gainsborough Trinity manager: It was, we ‘ve come with a game plan and I said to the players before the game if we stick to it and we are disciplined…not many people will expect us to come here …we didn’t have the pressure on us to come here and win a game. We were massive underdogs. It might say they had about 75% of the possession, but it says Gainsborough 3 Guiseley 1. We were clinical and when we had the ball, first-half I thought we give it away too cheaply, but we stuck to our game plan and we did the job.

DG: The game plan seemed to be to press high and that really did cause problems for them.

SH: Yeah, I can remember when I first took over at the club and we played Guiseley, they are a good footballing side, always have been, and I did the same at our place. They can’t really hurt you if they are just playing from left back to right back, centre back, and we had to be patient and sometimes those sorts of teams can lose their patience and just look for long balls forward. Their movement was good and they are a good side, so we’ve got to take credit for that. We’ve come to a good side and beat them 3-1.

DG: A note on Tom Davie and Billy Lobjoit – first starts of the season. I thought they were terrific.

SH: Yeah, like you say…game Saturday. Me and Stampy (Assistant Manager Darryn Stamp) looked before the game, we had an inkling you know…I think they thought they just had to turn up. They looked a bit lacklustre in the warm-up, things like that and I said to our lads…fresh legs, with Tom Davie, Billy Lobjoit and Charlie Binns, who was magnificent in the middle of the park, all came in and were lively for us. Mike Emery in goal, not forgetting about him…it makes a good headache, but a difficult situation for next week now.

DG: Is there an injury worry with Curtis (Bateson) – superb today a goal and two assists?

SH: I think it’s just his ankle, just got a knock. Just having a joke that he can go back to a proper physio for a week. He won’t have to see our physio now and again…he’s got a proper physio to see daily. Fingers crossed he should be alright for next week.

DG: Defence looked resolute again, really defended the eighteen yard box well.

SH: We got asked questions today and I thought we answered them all. We didn’t look in any danger you know, the goal came from a long range shot, that’s all we restricted them to. There was the odd time where from corners they looked a wee bit dangerous, but we stood as soldiers, we were strong and like you say that’s near enough a perfect performance against a team that’s going to be up there come the end of the season. But you know, why shouldn’t Gainsborough be up there…we said we were going to surprise a few people. No surprise to me and the lads that we were going to come here and win today.

DG: Any news on the injures to your assistant Stampy and Bees (Paul Beesley)?

SH: Bees could be a bit longer than we thought, but hopefully he’s looking for next week as it’s his old club. Stampy should be okay, but we’ll assess that…we got a full week to assess it and we’ll see how they are – probably Thursday.

* * * * * * * * *

DG: First start of the season, first goal. Just take us through it.

Tom Davie (TD), Gainsborough Trinity forward: It was a great way to start. I’ve had to bide my time and work hard to get into the team. The team has been doing well, but Houshy’s put his faith in me today and I hope I’ve repaid him.

DG: It was a brilliant strike; you had a tester just before that went wide. It was a good finish, how did you see it?

TD: To be fair I had one a couple of minutes before and I’ve got it in exactly the same position and luckily this time its gone it. But as a team I thought we were brilliant today – the defence was brilliant from Mike to Billy up front.

DG: Exactly, your manager has talked about how you stuck to the game plan, pressing high and how you did a really good job – you Billy and Curtis up front really worked your socks off today.

TD: We are all young lads so we have to learn off this experience. We came here with a game plan and we’ve all stuck to it and that’s what happens when you stick to it, we’ve come to a top side and got a good three points.

DG: Where do you go from here – you just going to keep working hard, knocking on the door and pushing?

TD: We’ve just not got to get complacent. We’ve got Bradford on Saturday. We’ll come in on Thursday and train again…then it’s another bigger push on Saturday.

DG: Do you think you’ve got a good chance on Saturday against Bradford?

TD: Yeah, I think…the lads are confident. The key is to keep our feet on the ground and do what we did today. Houshy will get us in Thursday, so I’m sure he’ll have another game plan for Saturday and if we stick to it I’m positive we’ll come out with the right result.

2014/15: Pre-season Friendly – Guiseley AFC v Bradford City

This was Guiseley’s second outing of the new season after a 2-0 victory over Albion Sports on Thursday. For Bradford City this was their opening friendly and it attracted plenty of Bantam’s fans in a bumper crowd of just under 1,800.

Guiseley have been busy in the summer with new drainage and playing surface and indeed it looked immaculate prior to kick-off. However, the pitch suffered during the game with a number of divots being created showing that the new turf has yet to bed in. It is hoped that the weather is kind to the ground staff in the coming weeks so that the pitch can settle.

Despite the disappointment of missing out on promotion to the Conference in the play-off final at the end of last season, there was a positive buzz around Nethermoor yesterday. Part of this is due to the fact that the club’s planning application for a new community building and general ground development are due to be submitted with a decision expected sometime in September.

On the pitch, it was what we have come to expect from friendlies with both sides looking at their squads including trialists. Bradford played two different teams in each half with Guiseley also making numerous changes during the second-half. The visitors won the game 3-0 with all the goals coming in the first half through, Lewis Clarkson (12 & 43 minutes) and Matthew Dolan (26 minutes). Steve Drench the Guiseley keeper was the sponsors ‘Man of the Match’ and it was well deserved on an afternoon when the League One team from Valley Parade dominated proceedings.

Guiseley can now look forward to next Saturday and another big crowd as Leeds United visit Nethermoor in an all-ticket fixture, whilst Bradford City jet off to Ireland to continue their pre-season.

Category: General | LEAVE A COMMENT

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.

Nethermoor – main stands.

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.

Guiseley on the attack.

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.

West Riding County FA: County Cup Final 2012/13 – FC Halifax Town v Guiseley AFC

Coral Windows Stadium, Valley Parade: Bradford City AFC

Tuesday 14 May 2013


The first winners of the County Cup were Leeds United Reserves in 1927 and apart from 1932 and the period from 1934 to 1949, it has been played for every season since. Goole AFC have won the trophy on most occasions with 13 wins, the first of which came in 1951 when they were known as Goole Town. Their last Cup win was in 2007 at Woodlesford (West Riding County FA Headquarters), when they beat Guiseley 3-1 with goals from Andy Parton and a brace from Duncan Bray.

In order to raise the profile of the competition, the Final has since 2011 been played at the home of Bradford City AFC and Guiseley have found this to their liking, after beating Thackley 4-2 (AET) in 2011 and Bradford Park Avenue 1-0 last year, at the home of The Bantams.

In terms of the 2012/13 competition, the round-by-round results have been as follows:


First Round

Armthorpe Welfare                    (1) – (4)        Barnoldswick Town

Farsley AFC                                  (1) – (4)         Albion Sports

Garforth Town                             (3) – (5)        Liversedge

Goole AFC                                     (1) – (0)        Pontefract Collieries

Knaresborough Town                 (3) – (2)        Brighouse Town

Ossett Albion                                (2) – (0)        Selby Town

Sildsen                                        Walkover        Askern Villa

Thackley                                        (1) – (2)         Tadcaster Albion

Wakefield                                      (1) – (5)         Ossett Town

Yorkshire Amateurs                    (2) – (5)         Harrogate Railway Athletic


Byes: Bradford Park Avenue, Eccleshill United, FC Halifax Town, Glasshoughton Welfare, Guiseley AFC and Harrogate Town.


Second Round

Albion Sports                                (3) – (0)        Glasshoughton Welfare

Guiseley AFC                                 (4) – (1)        Bradford Park Avenue

Harrogate Railway Athletic        (4) – (3)        Barnoldswick Town

Liversedge                                      (0) – (7)        FC Halifax Town

Ossett Albion                                 (0) – (1)        Harrogate Town

Ossett Town                                   (3) – (2)        Goole AFC

Silsden                                             (0) – (3)        Knaresborough Town

Tadcaster Albion                           (2) – (1)        Eccleshill United  [AET]


Quarter – Final

Albion Sports                               (0) – (2)        FC Halifax Town

Harrogate Railway Athletic       (3) – (2)        Tadcaster Albion

Harrogate Town                           (0) – (5)        Guiseley AFC

Ossett Town                                  (2) – (1)        Knaresborough Town [AET]


Semi- Final

Guiseley AFC                                 (5) – (0)        Harrogate Railway Athletic

Ossett Town                                   (0) – (1)        FC Halifax Town


playoffThe results meant that Guiseley made it to their third successive Final against fellow Blue Square Bet North opponents FC Halifax Town. During the season the two sides had met on four occasions. The first two meetings were the League encounters with both fixtures ending 1-1. As Guiseley finished second in the table and FC Halifax Town finished fifth the clubs faced each other in the Play-off Semi-Final. In the 1st Leg game at The Shay in front of a 2,367 crowd, Town went ahead with a penalty from Dan Gardner, only for Danny Ellis to equalise in the second-half to bring about a third successive 1-1 outcome between the teams. Something had to give in the 2nd Leg and it did as Town took the game with second-half goals from Alex Johnson and Lee Gregory to seal a 3-2 aggregate win. The teams were as follows:

Guiseley AFC – (1) Steve Drench, (2) Aaron Hardy, (3) Rhys Meynell, (4) Andy Pearson, (5) Danny Ellis, (6) Matt Wilson, (7) Jack Rea, (8) Andy Holdsworth, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Gavin Rothery. Subs: (12) Mark Bower, (14) Jake Lawlor, (15) Seb Carole, (16) Phil Marsh, (18) Jacob Giles.

FC Halifax Town – (1) Matt Glennon, (2) Ryan Toulson, (4) Scott McManus, (4) Liam Hogan, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Liam Needham, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Alex Johnson, (10) Dan Gardner, (11) Lee Gregory Subs: (12) Phil Senior, (14) Jon Worthington, (15) Gareth Seddon, (16) James Bolton, (19) Adriano Moke.

Whilst there was huge disappointment for Guiseley, The Shaymen went on to seal promotion to the Blue Square Bet Conference Premier Division with a 1-0 win over Brackley Town. Now both sides had one last fixture at Bradford; for Halifax the chance to end the season with a ‘double’ celebration, whilst for Guiseley the opportunity to gain a consolation in terms of a third consecutive County Cup win.

For the Final the crowd was only admitted to the lower tier of the Co-operative Stand, so for the spectators it was an eerie scene looking out on the rest of the ground where the claret and amber seats were empty.  It was also hard to imagine that this was the same stadium where 28 years ago so many were tragically killed and injured in the Bradford fire, as all the old terraces and stands have since gone and been redeveloped. There is a feeling of lop-sidedness about the place now, as the main stand and Kop dwarf the Midland Road and TL Dallas stands, which was accentuated by the fact that these areas were empty for this game. Given that the season was at an end and the volume of games played on it, the pitch was in pretty good condition and certainly did not have any significant areas which were devoid of grass.

In the previous two Finals to be held at Valley Parade, the attendance had topped the 1,000 mark, but was on this occasion lower at 766. This may have been down to it coming just two days after Halifax gained promotion at Brackley and that it was a pretty chilly and damp evening. However, also part of the equation unfortunately, will be the fact that fans don’t see it as a priority and at the end of a long season, despite adult entry being only £7, people couldn’t be lured out. The reality is that all Cup competitions now suffer lower crowds which have hit the (Carling) League Cup and the FA Cup in recent years.

Whilst the fans may not have seen the Final as a being significant, it was a credit to both FC Halifax and Guiseley that they put out strong line-ups. Of the 32 players named in the Final, 22 (11 from each side) appeared in the 2nd Leg Play-off game at Guiseley. For the Final the teams were as follows:

FC Halifax Town: (1) Phil Senior, (2) James Bolton, (3) Jason St. Juste, (4) Ryan Toulson, (5) Matt Pearson, (6) Danny Lowe, (7) Adriano Moke, (8) Sean Williams, (9) Danny Glover, (10) Jon Worthington, (11) Gareth Seddon. Subs: (12) Matt Glennon, (14) Osebi Abadaki, (15) George Wysocki, (16) Josh Messer, (17) Alex Johnson

Guiseley AFC: (1) Steve Drench, (2) Andy Holdsworth, (3) Andy McWilliams, (4) Jack Rea, (5) Matt Wilson, (6) Mark Bower, (7) Seb Carole, (8) Gavin Rothery, (9) Josh Wilson, (10) James Walshaw, (11) Phil Marsh. Subs: (12) Wayne Brooksby, (14) Macaulay Parkinson, (15) Zack Dale, (16) Jacob Giles, (17) Luke Porritt.

004While the team lined up to be presented to the guest of honour, the Town fans made themselves heard with a chorus of “…Stand-up if you’re going up…”, just to make sure their opponents hadn’t forgotten the events of the last few days. Guiseley kicked off and had the better of the opening couple of minutes in terms of possession. However, it was Halifax who had the first attempt on goal of the game, when Gareth Seddon had a volley comfortably saved by Steve Drench. Encouraged by this Town started to dominate proceedings, with Glover prominent down the middle for The Shaymen and Moke getting wide. With nine minutes gone Halifax won the first corner of the game after a Seddon shot was deflected away. From the corner and play that switched across field, Seddon blazed the resulting effort over the bar. Halifax were growing in confidence and on twelve minutes, Adriano Moke collected the ball out wide on the left, cut in and curled his effort onto the bar. Guiseley struggled to get any foot-hold in the opening fifteen minutes, with their attacks limited to long balls forward which were often over-hit. However, on seventeen minutes The Lions at last fashioned a decent chance, as a shot from Seb Carole was parried but gathered at the second attempt by Town keeper Senior. This seemed to settle Guiseley as they had their best spell since the opening minutes of the game. However, Halifax stormed back and on nineteen minutes an excellent position from a free-kick was spurned by the taker Williams. Just three minutes later an ever better chance went begging when Seddon miskicked when well placed in the six-yard box. When Guiseley did get possession, they were unable to capitalise as they continued to give it away too easily. However, on the half-hour mark, The Lions had a shout for a penalty, as a shot from Josh Wilson struck Town defender Bolton who was on the ground; the referee rightly turned down the appeal. Halifax upped the tempo as in the space of five minutes they worked the flanks well to create good crossing opportunities, the first of which was well intercepted by Steve Drench and the other too long for the intended target Seddon. With ten minutes to go Guiseley created their best chance of the first-half as good work by Marsh released Walshaw who wastefully lashed the chance over the bar. It was certainly not a case of the half petering out quietly, as with thirty eight minutes on the clock, Town’s Seddon provided a knockdown for Moke which was drilled wide and then was quickly followed by a free-kick opportunity which was unfortunately wasted by St. Juste. Then with a minute to the break, Seddon disposed Guiseley keeper Drench, rounded him but saw his effort rebound back of the post, with nobody able to apply a finishing touch. It was by far the best chance of the half; in a forty five minutes which Halifax had created the better openings.

005Guiseley made a substitution at the start of the second-half with Phil Marsh replaced by Wayne Brooksby. Halifax kicked off and were immediately on the attack through Gareth Seddon, but his cross came to nothing. This was typical of the play in the opening five minutes as neither team settled into any sort of rhythm. However, on fifty one minutes the first corner of the second period was won by Guiseley; Gavin Rothery took it but the opportunity was wasted as it cleared the box and went straight out. Town responded immediately as after good work by Jason St. Juste out wide, Seddon had a shot on goal which was deflected for a corner. Moke took the kick, but the header from Bolton was off target. It was a good little spell for Halifax as they played on the break and created shooting opportunities for Sean Williams and Adriano Moke. As the game started to open-up, Guiseley countered with a period of pressure themselves, as James Walshaw had a shot from inside the box deflected for a corner. However, as with earlier in the half, a poor delivery meant the chance was wasted. With the game approaching the hour mark, The Lions kept up the pressure with an effort from Gavin Rothery, but it was straight at the keeper and easily gathered. Back came Town with two chances in a minute, but the efforts from Worthington and Seddon were comfortably dealt with by Drench in the Guiseley goal. On sixty six minutes, The Shaymen made their first substitution of the night as Danny Glover was replaced by Alex Johnson. Town continued to press and Moke created a shooting chance for St. Juste, but the effort drifted wide. On seventy minutes Town were forced into a second change, as the injured Worthington was replaced by Josh Messer and Guiseley also made a change with James Walshaw taken off (much to the delight of the Halifax faithful), with Zack Dale coming on. The substitutions and the persistent rain seemed to have a dampening effect on the game, with the play decidedly disjointed and even the hard-core fans of both sides reduced to barely a murmur. The gloom was broken by jeers from the Town fans when on seventy four minutes a free-kick taken by Guiseley’s Rothery saw the player slip over and end up on his backside. A couple of minutes later Halifax had an excellent chance to take the lead when substitute Messer found himself one-on-one with Guiseley keeper Drench, but the shot lacked strength and was easily gathered. Indeed as the game entered the last ten minutes it was The Shaymen who looked more likely to grab a winner with Moke a constant threat and shooting chances for Seddon, Williams and St. Juste. Guiseley struggled to get any possession in the closing period, but had a chance two minutes from time with a free-kick in a good position. However, the effort from Josh Wilson was high and wide and extra-time loomed ever closer. As the game went into the final minute of normal time, Town’s Moke provided another shooting chance for Sean Williams, but the effort was blocked. With the ninety minutes up, there were two minutes of time added-on for the teams to break the deadlock and once again Moke created the opportunity for The Shaymen after good work by him resulted in a corner. Jason St. Juste took the kick, but substitute Alex Johnson could only glance the header wide and so it was extra-time.

With the rain continuing to fall, Halifax started the first period the better of the teams, getting forward and maintaining possession. Five minutes in, Town appealed for a penalty when Matt Pearson went down after a challenge by Jack Rea, but the referee quickly turned it down. A couple of minutes later Guiseley had their first chance in extra-time, however, Josh Wilson pulled his shot wide. That was a rare moment of pressure from The Lions as Halifax continued to hold the upper hand and with the game entering the hundredth minute, the dangerous Moke got wide and crossed invitingly into the box. Despite having space, Alex Johnson could only head wide. Guiseley then made their last substitution with Jack Rea making way for Macaulay Parkinson. The rain was making conditions difficult and both sides hit a scrappy spell. Just when it looked like the game was going to remain goal-less at the end of the first period of extra-time, The Shaymen struck. Alex Johnson played a through ball to Gareth Seddon who collected it and from just inside the box, beautifully curled his shot into the top corner; a moment of quality which gave Halifax a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, with Guiseley in need of an equaliser, Seb Carole prompted The Lions search, but the Halifax defence held firm. However, for all their pressure and domination of the opening ten minutes of the half, Guiseley couldn’t turn their possession into actual chances. As the clock showed there were just five minutes to go, Halifax dug deep into their reserves and mounted some pressure of their own. First Alex Johnson was released on goal, but was flagged off-side and a couple of minutes later, Seddon had a long-range effort charged down. The Lions weren’t done though and with three minutes to go, Halifax just about cleared a corner from Guiseley. The final minutes proved to be nervous for Town as Guiseley continued to press with even keeper Steve Drench going forward. However, it was not to be for the team from Nethermoor and at the whistle it was Halifax who celebrated.

For Town it was the second occasion they have lifted the West Riding FA County Cup, whilst for Guiseley there was no third successive win. Both sides now look forward to the summer break. When the 2013/14 season kicks-off, The Shaymen will be just one promotion away from a return to the Football League. For The Lions, they will look to regroup and see if they can make it out of the Conference North after the Play-off defeats of the last two seasons. But for now, goodbye to the 2012/13 season…

2010/11: Blue Square North Play-off Semi Final, 2nd Leg

Boston United v Guiseley AFC- Sunday 08 May 2011

Just four years after relegation from the Football League, having lost to Wrexham and then entering Administration on the last day of the season in May 2007, Boston United were on the verge of returning to the Blue Square Premier (BSP) League,  the level most Boston fans would tell you is the Lincolnshire club’s natural level. With Lincoln City’s relegation confirmed and Grimsby (poachers of Boston’s successful young management team just days ago) also languishing in the BSP, there was plenty to look forward to, if success in the Play-offs could be achieved.

After a tight First Leg, in which Guiseley had gained the advantage through a superb free kick from Warren Peyton from 35 yards, it was all to play for at York Street. Guiseley, who pipped Boston to the Unibond League title just 12 months ago on the last day of the season, and Boston, have been almost inseparable over the past two seasons. This was reflected in this season’s league games which produced a 0-0 draw in Yorkshire on a soggy Tuesday night in November, and a 1-1 at York Street in January.

Ironically for this Yorkshire-based Boston fan, the trip to York Street was considerably longer than the ‘away’ visit to Netherfield, so I was up early and eager to be on my way. Picking up a fellow exile en route, we spent most of the drive down the A1 trying to convince ourselves we weren’t too worried about the outcome – after the last few years and nearly going out of existence the feeling of relief that we still have a club to support is still overwhelming, and after all, we told ourselves, we’d already exceeded expectations for the season. I don’t think either of us was fooled!

On arrival at York Street, the Pilgrims Social Club was rammed, but a pint of Batemans was needed to calm the nerves. With the pre match warm up duly carried out, we took our places amongst the 2,640 strong crowd that had gathered. The famous ‘Town End’ was full of particularly vocal home support and the noise coming from that end of the ground was a good old fashioned racket.

With nerves on edge due to the deficit from the First Leg, it was important that Boston started well, which they duly did. Encouraged by their largest home crowd since their League days, the Pilgrims surged up the pitch, and with 10 minutes gone won a corner. Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out what was going to happen here. Centre back and player of the season Shaun Pearson has scored 11 goals this term, and I’d say 9 of them are identikit headed goals from a corner. I can only assume non-league budgets don’t stretch to scouting or Guiseley would have seen this one coming. From a Jamie Yates corner Pearson thumped one into the net with his head, and sent the crowd ballistic.

From this moment until the half time whistle went, Boston looked the most threatening side, with a shot cleared off the line, and just before half time, an Anthony Church shot struck the crossbar. Guiseley looked happy to make it to half time still in the game, but following a rivalry built up over the last couple of seasons, and particularly after the 1st Leg, in which we had dominated the first half, we knew better than to write them off.

When a minute or so into the second half Church again rattled the crossbar, this time from a free kick, it was beginning to look like we’d carry on where we left off. Guiseley had other ideas, however. When Boston conceded a free kick and our tormentor Peyton was lining it up, there was me thinking ‘oh no, not again’. This one however struck the wall, but it rebounded to former Leeds youngster Gavin Rothery who tucked it past veteran keeper Paul Bastock to put Guiseley back in control of the tie with half an hour to play.

Boston responded to this setback and following a build up of pressure Jamie Yates had a good chance, before Danny Davidson came on as a substitute for the hard working Spencer Wier Daley. Davidson had an immediate impact, creating a chance for Yates that was deflected wide. Then on 79 minutes, from a corner following good play by Ryan Semple, the ball fell to Church, who, having scored our winner in the playoff final against Bradford Park Avenue last season, duly rammed it home to make it the aggregate score 2-2. Cue pandemonium in the stands, and 10 minutes of tension on the pitch, with neither side wanting to make a mistake, the play was very cautious to the final whistle.

With tension in the air, extra time kicked off. The first 15 minutes were tense, edgy times, and few chances were created. Three minutes into the second half came a moment of pure drama as, with Guiseley attacking, Boston were unable to effectively clear their lines and the ball fell to Darryn Stamp who lashed in a volley from 20 yards – a strike worthy of settling any match. The hundred or so Guiseley fans went berserk and a momentary silence settled around the rest of the ground. However this didn’t last long, the United fans, knowing their teams never say die attitude could still sense the possibility of salvation.

That salvation arrived some 5 minutes later as a superb run by the by then almost exhausted Yates resulted in a cross towards the far post where no less that 3 Boston players were lining up to pounce. Danny Davidson was the man in the right place and gleefully headed home. I nearly lost my voice, and my sanity.

For the remaining few minutes of extra time, it was Guiseley who looked shell shocked and Boston piled on the pressure, and almost snatched a winner when Adam Boyes volleyed wide. The final whistle went, and I cannot help but feel if we’d had another 5 minutes we’d have prevailed, but it was not meant to be, and so it went to penalties.

Whilst waiting for the first penalty, I cast my mind back to any situations involving penalty shoot outs where I cared about the outcome. This was the first one I have known involve Boston. All the others involved England so I was certainly prepared for the worst! The next thing that came to mind was how the script was written for our veteran keeper Paul Bastock. A true Boston legend who I remember first watching in the early 90’s, and had returned for the latter part of this season from St Albans to take his appearance total for the club to over 620. Surely if there was to be a hero today it would be him?

Alas, whoever wrote the script must have been from Yorkshire, as the hero turned out to be the aptly named Drench, who, playing in goal for Guiseley, poured water on our hopes by superbly saving an attempt by Gareth Jellyman (yes, he threw a wobbly!)  and another effort from Danny Sleath. With Boyes also hitting the post, and Guiseley missing two of theirs , it all came down to that man again, Warren Peyton, who kept his cool and settled 210 minutes of football with one kick, not the best penalty but it in went, setting a date with AFC Telford in the play off final for Guiseley.

Ben Grant

2010/11: FA Cup Third Qualifying Round – Guiseley AFC v Whitley Bay


2010/11: FA Cup 3rd Qualifying Round - Guiseley v Whitley Bay

With a second International break upon the Premier League and Championship clubs, for many fans football hasn’t existed during the weekend just gone. The reality is that League One and Two continued as usual, as did a full programme of games in the rest of the football pyramid at non-league level.

Lurking amongst the games in the various leagues, the eagle-eyed may also have noticed that it was an FA Cup weekend, the Third Qualifying Round to be exact. Depending on the club you support, your awareness of the competition varies greatly. For those in the Premier League and the Championship the FA Cup only comes onto the radar in the first week of January. For those in League One and League Two, November see entry into the First Round.

If the thought of FA Cup matches in November seems a little early, then consider this, the FA Cup which will end this season at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 14 May 2011, began this year 9 months previously. The 2010/11 FA Cup competition began on Saturday 14th August 2010 with the Extra Preliminary Round. Amongst the teams involved in that Round were Whitley Bay from the Northern Football League Division One. Back in August, The Seahorses were drawn against Liversedge and in an impressive away victory emerged as 3-0 winners. Before the month was out, Whitley were back in FA Cup action and were again drawn away, this time at Bishop Auckland. The Bay seemed to be heading out, but in the last minute grabbed a goal to level the game at 2-2. Just three days later the replay took place and with home advantage Whitley sailed through 3-1. September 11th and Whitley were in FA Cup action at Ossett Albion. No replay was required as the men from Hillheads Park went through 2-1. Into the last Saturday of September and the draw again sent the team from the North East on their travels, this time to Nantwich Town and in a thriller, The Bay emerged victorious 3-2.

This brings the story up to date to last Saturday and unbelievably another away draw and another fixture in Yorkshire. The opposition were Guiseley AFC of the Conference North, three divisions higher than Whitley Bay. This was The Seahorses sixth game in the FA Cup and the team were rewarded with a dedicated and noisy following of around 200 fans in a bumper attendance of 704 at Nethermoor; with the cries of Howay the Bay ringing clear from the North East voices before kick-off. Alas, Lady Luck turned her back on Whitley and on the half hour they were reduced to 10 men and a penalty awarded against them. With the kick successful and another goal before half-time, Guiseley were well on their way, and the game ended 3-0 to The Lions.

To me it shows that there still is magic in the FA Cup. A competition that can provide teams with the chance of a fantastic run, memorable days out for the fans and always that chance that David will beat Goliath. The Bay are left to cherish the memories of their journey and count some useful additions to the clubs coffers. For Guiseley the win brings entry to the 4th Qualifying Round (the last before the First Round) and a home tie against Conference South opposition Redditch United.

In a period when football headlines are dominated by clubs facing financial meltdown, temperamental “stars” and reckless challenges, it’s good to know that the romance of the Cup isn’t dead – it just needs finding and nurturing, as it’s only just below the surface. Saturday 23rd October 2010, FA Cup 4th Qualifying Round – get out there and fall in love with football again.

2010/11: Pre-season – The Non-League Option

When I lived in London, I would regularly watch around 50 games a season. As well as watching my beloved Fulham, I spend many a Saturday at Plough Lane watching Wimbledon in the Southern League and Tooting & Mitcham in the Isthmian League. It was a chance to watch football without stress, it was cheaper and invariably had a sense of a greater belonging – a friendliness. That is not to say that the football was any less committed, that supporters were less fanatical or rivalries were less intense. I didn’t feel that I was being taken advantage of or being bombarded by advertising and merchandising. Many club officials and those working in the bars and refreshments areas were volunteers and so provided an honesty and integrity when attending the games. Two stand-out memories from those days occurred at Plough Lane and showed a career on the rise and one on the way down. In a London Senior Cup tie in 1978/79 season a 17 year old Dave Beasant played for Edgware Town against Wimbledon. He had a stormer of a game and was later signed up by the Dons on the way to a long and event filled career. A couple of years earlier, Geoff Hurst, cut a rather sad figure leading the forward line as player-manager of Telford United. Not a great memory of England’s 1966 hat-trick hero.

Since coming North I still get around the Non-League circuit and I’ll add a new ground to those visited tonight when Wakefield host a Leeds United XI. Yorkshire is blessed with a full range of clubs up and down the Non-League ladder. In the Conference Premier, York City are the flag bearers for the White Rose County, whilst a division below Guiseley and Harrogate Town look to continue their progress through the Leagues. FC Halifax Town, Bradford Park Avenue, Ossett Albion, Ossett Town, Harrogate Railway, Garforth Town, Yorkshire Amatuer – are all clubs in Yorkshire who would welcome extra spectators to their clubs. A special mention for Farsley AFC (previously Farsley Celtic) who have emerged from their troubles and start life again this season. Sky would have us believe that football doesn’t exist outside of the Premier League. Many fans know this isn’t true. The fact is football exists outside of the 92 clubs as well. If you are looking for a different experience and  when your team are away and you can’t get tickets, why not get along to a Non-League game?