Birtley Town 2-1 Guisborough Town
|Ebac Northern League Division 1
KO 60 87 FT
Guisborough Town produced a markedly improved performance at newly-promoted Birtley Town on Tuesday despite losing their second away Northern League match in a row.
Trailing 1-0 to a shock early Birtley goal, there was a pivotal five minute period from the 55th to the 60 minute mark when the game could well have swung in Guisborough’s favour.
First of all Guisborough’s livewire wingman Joe Pickett first drew a terrific save from the home keeper who dived brilliantly to keep out Joe’s rasping free kick just outside the penalty area.
Then just a minute later Pickett should have scored when he found himself clean through with only the Birtley ‘keeper to beat but he lifted his shot agonisingly just over the Birtley bar.
However, things took a turn for the worse for the Priorymen just after the hour mark when defender Tommy Marron was sent off for pulling down a Birtley forward who was through on goal just outside the Guisborough penalty area.
Conversely, the red card actually seemed to galvanise Guisborough into some concerted attacking play for a period but then came a hammer blow in the 70th minute when Birtley produced a quick-fire counter attack which ended in a rather lucky move and second Birtley goal as Liam Wotherspoon doubled his side’s lead.
Once again, never-say-die Guisborough battled back and central defender James Frazer got in a great header following an 87th minute corner and the ball looped into the Birtley net for 2-1 to provide some genuine if faint hope for the Priorymen.
But try as they might the Priorymen just couldn’t force a late equaliser and in actual fact it was a brilliant save from Guisborough goalkeeper Robert Dean who prevented a third Birtley goal.
After the game a heartened Guisborough Manager Steve Bell commented: “I thought the lads were excellent tonight, completely opposite to last Saturday’s performance.
“Overall, they played with energy, quality and aggression. First half I thought we played them off the park – however, we definitely need to improve on that final pass that either wasn’t on target or had too much pace on it.
“In the second half we should have equalised with an unbelievable chance that Joe Pickett missed and then we go and get a man sent off. That forced us into taking a few risks which resulted in us being hit on the counter-attack by a second Birtley goal.
“If we continue to perform at the level we showed tonight, then I’m not too worried going forward,” added Steve.
As the game kicked off anyone who was parachuted blindfold into Birtley’s ground could have been forgiven for thinking they were about to watch a Rangers v Celtic Glasgow derby – with Birtley in green and white hoops and Guisborough in their smart new blue away strip!
However, a lapse in defensive concentration led to Guisborough going a goal down in just the third minute as a long Birtley throw into the Guisborough penalty area eventually fell kindly to Lewis Orrell and he scored with a low drive into the corner from about 15 yards out to put his side 1-0 up.
After a tentative opening first 20 minutes Guisborough finally got into their attacking groove and produced several dangerous and free flowing attacks mainly down the right flank – but they just couldn’t get enough men forward to capitalise.
And all too often, the final pass was either over-hit or Guisborough couldn’t get sufficient numbers in the danger area in the middle.
Overall, however, the Priorymen can take heart from a much-improved display.
Report: Bill Perfitt
|The Arrowmark Home Improvements Stadium
|The Arrowmark Home Improvements Stadium Birtley Tyne and Wear DH3 2QW