Marske United 0-1 Guisborough Town
The term 'thick and fast' may refer to several professional footballers who, for fear of litigation, will remain nameless. The term also certainly applies to the fixture pile up in the Northern league, where the gap between games is shorter than Sammy Lee. This is the spring that never was, following on from the winter that never ends. But solace can always be found in two derby wins over your local rivals in the space of a week. Both games were 1-0, both games were tight and neither were classics. But the win propels Guisborough into ninth place and the clean sheet is testimony to a superbly organised display where Jamie Poole's commitment and Craig Bishop's composure were central features. The decisive goal came in the first half when Marty O'Riordan - rejuvenated and reborn in his second spell at the club - latched on to a perfectly weighted diagonal ball over the top and lashed the ball left-footed into the top corner. It was a goal that was a goal before it was even a goal; from the moment it left O'Riordan's foot it was in. The travelling support leapt upwards to celebrate, none more so than Rob 'Shaka' Hislop behind the goal, who roared as the ball hit the net in an outpouring of energy that could have powered the National Grid.
The travelling support may have hoped that this goal would open the floodgates, but Marske battled hard and in former Town striker David Onions were always a threat going forward. Onions did not so much have the fire in his belly than an inferno. He urged teammates on and for the first half an hour chased down every ball. But Guisborough soaked up all that was thrown at them and their tactic of playing the ball across the back is an opposition attacker's nightmare. Onions and McGill chased and harried, but increasingly were running low on energy as they ran themselves into the ground.
In a second half high on action but low on chances, Guisborough's Roberts came closest when his mazy run and shot flew goal wards, but clipped the top of the crossbar. Two years ago, Marske sneaked a last minute winner into the goal Guisborough once again defended in the second half. As the clock ticked on, Marske pushed and pressed hard for an equaliser. This time, Guisborough held firm. Style has been a hallmark of Chris Hardy's Guisborough sides for several years, but add to that substance and stomach. His side continues to evolve and the precise passing that was the hallmark of victories against West Auckland and Whitley Bay has been complemented with grit and guts when required.
Some players walked off, others hobbled, some limped. Wednesday brings another fixture, this time at South Shields. To end as I began, the fixtures continue onwards - thick and fast.