Guisborough Town v Stockton Town FC
A huge crowd came to see the unbeaten Anchors take on 4th place Guisborough and they were royally entertained. There were several comments of it being a 'proper game of football' from fans leaving the ground although some of the tackles from the Priorymen in the second half were a bit too robust even if the Ref didn't always agree and kept his cards to a minimum.
Michael Dunwell picked a vastly different team from Wednesday, as expected, in this local derby and Guisborough were determined not to give the Anchors any foothold in the game as they worked very hard from the off to close down and prevent them getting any rhythm.
Jamie Owens had the first attempt on 4 minutes when his curling free kick from 22 yards was saved by Catterick but Miller got to the rebound just before Risbrough to clear for a corner.
A mistake on the edge of their own box by Stockton 2 minutes later gave the ball to Earl he unselfishly rolled it to McNeill who lashed a shot just wide of the target as both teams tried to find a way through.
Owens was having a right old physical battle with Crust and he got the better of him on 23 minutes but a long way from goal he volleyed the ball forward hoping to catch Catterick out but the keeper got back in time to collect.
The game was lacking a bit of quality, Guisborough were strong and efficient and causing the odd alarm in the Stockton defence but anytime the Anchors looked like getting forward the Priorymen were getting lots of players behind the ball and breaking things up.
Guisborough finished the half the better, Callum Roberts made a terrific save from McNeill as he was slipped in down the left channel by Coleman and unleashed a pile driver which the Stockton keeper tipped over acrobatically and then on 39 minutes Marshall collected a headed clearance and let fly but his shot flew over the bar. The scrappy game had suited the home team more. HT 0-0
The second half started with the Anchors on the front foot and they pretty much stayed that way for the next 45 minutes.
A series of corners and balls into the box nearly opened the scoring and when Woodhouses cross/shot flew across the goal Jordan Robinson couldnt get his weight in the right place to get the touch from close in that would have surely seen it ending up in the net.
The Anchors were getting Hayes on the ball now and Mark Robinson was finding him hard to deal with as the winger jinked inside and the challenge from Marshall bringing him down inside the box for a blatant penalty. Jamie OWENS grabbed the ball and smashed it past keeper Catterick to make it 1-0 on 58 minutes.
The Anchors wing wizard was in the game again 4 minutes later as Stockton started to dominate the game and this time he eased past Robinson and whipped in his trademark left foot curler only to see it smack the inside of the post and amazingly bounce along the line into Cattericks hands.
Stocktons midfield duo of Portas and Robinson were dictating the play now and Fred Woodhouse was being an increasing influence on the game as he revelled in the space appearing in front of the Guisborough defence and twice he broke through into a good position but 'attention' from centre half Crust unbalanced him and his shots weren't as clean as he wanted.
Callum Roberts was called to action on 77 minutes when a rare Guisborough attack saw the ball find full back Mark Robinson, inside the box and his strong effort was closed down quickly and saved well by the Stockton keeper.
Hayes was relishing all the space now and the Priorymen's defence were struggling to do anything to stop it, the no 7 turning one way then the other inside the box leaving space for a shot but he sliced his right foot effort wide. But it wasn't long before he got it right and on 81 minutes HAYES collected Bulmers cross shifted it onto his trusty left foot and this time his curler found the far side netting for another terrific goal for the winger.
The unfortunate thing about being a defender is you can be brilliant all game not put a foot wrong then make a tiny error or suffer bad luck and it results in a goal and its all a bit unfair. Ex Stockton forward Sonni COLEMAN was the beneficiary as Thompsons long ball bounced awkwardly for Coulthard and he didn't get the pace on the ball to reach the keeper and he nipped in and finished well under Roberts to make it 2-1 and all of a sudden the game looked back in the balance as Guisborough rallied.
The Anchors weren't for caving in and they worked even harder to keep the ball going in the right direction and still created a more opportunities, Hayes had a shot saved by Catterick, Owens couldnt get the right contact on a chipped ball in when inside the 6 yard box but the best chance being to Mikey Roberts who seemed to stumble when faced with a tap in from a couple of yards out after good work by Woodhouse. FT 2-1
An excellent result for the Anchors, after a scrappy first half where they struggled to get any rhythm going, they showed up in the second half and took the game to Guisborough and created several good chances in a first class performance from 1-11. Hayes was in superb form, Woodhouse showed what we'd been missing for the last month and Portas and Robinson in midfield were imperious in the second half, the latter getting the pick for man of the match. Referee didn't help with some strange decisions especially on an elbow on King and an horrific two footed challenge on Tom Portas.
The unbeaten League run is extended and the rest in midweek had definitely served the team well as the zip returned. Three Cup games in a row now starting with high flying West Allotment on Wednesday and then the Road to Wembley continues at Knaresborough in the FA Vase, exciting times.