Guisborough Town 2-0 Billingham Town
|Ebac Northern League Division 1
KO KO 8 45 51 54 56 85 FT
One stunningly classy move five minutes from time was the outstanding highlight of a Teesside derby clash badly marred by strong swirling winds at the KGV Stadium on Saturday.
Both sides deserve credit for battling the blustery elements and trying their best to play decent football – but all too often passes were over-hit or the high winds swept well-meaning through balls frustratingly out of play.
But in the 85th minute a gallant Guisborough side – reduced to 10 men on 56 minutes after Louis Johnson was sent off for dissent – finally clinched three well-deserved points following a terrific move of real quality that will live long in the memory of the 204 spectators who braved the elements.
The move was started on the right flank by Guisborough defender James Dillon who capped yet another fine individual display by hitting a perfectly measured pass to send Ben Jackson storming towards the Billingham by-line. Then he sent over a perfectly-judged cross into the middle where home skipper J J Bartliff smashed the ball home from close range to give the Priorymen an unassailable 2-0 lead.
It was a mark of Guisborough’s fitness and resilience after they had dominated the game despite going down to 10 men just 11 minutes after half-time when striker Louis Johnson was given a straight red card for what appeared to be dissent.
But Billingham failed miserably to make their one-man advantage count which was a great testament to the Priorymen’s temperament and fitness and in truth it was difficult to distinguish at times which side was actually a man down.
In fact, apart from a goal-bound shot that Shabs Mohammed brilliantly blocked on 62 minutes, Billingham rarely troubled Guisborough ‘keeper Robert Dean, who had little to do throughout the 90 minutes.
Prior to kick-off, both sides and spectators observed a poignant minutes’ silence for tragic two-year Guisborough toddler Daniel James Hodgson Green who had died earlier in the week.
Once play got underway it wasn’t long before Guisborough got their noses 1-0 in front after just eight minutes when more great work this time down the left flank by the impressive Jackson sent Jack Blackford away – and his excellent cross into the box found Louis Johnson who tucked the ball away smartly.
After the game a clearly delighted Guisborough Manager Steve Bell commented: “Four weeks into the season we would have had to play unbelievably well to win this kind of game 2-0, especially when we were down to 10 men.
“We now find ourselves in the very comfortable situation now where we have to play just ‘alright’ to go on and win 2-0. It’s a strange feeling but I’m not sure which is the more enjoyable!
“I honestly feel that we still have another few gears to go through too which must be good for the rest of the season.
“We now have the prospect of two brilliant home games coming up against Marske in the North Riding Senior Cup next Wednesday and league leaders Consett next Saturday, so I say bring it on,” added Steve.
Report: Bill Perfitt
Photos: Dan Clark
|King George V Stadium
|King George V Stadium Howlbeck Road, Guisborough TS14 6LE