Saturday, November 19, 2011

Back to back wins bring new sense of perspective

Guisborough Town 3 – 1 Jarrow Roofing

Three days, two wins, six points. What a difference a few days make. After edging past Spennymoor on Wednesday evening, it was crucial that this momentum was maintained today against a side in Jarrow that have won just once in their last nine games and were sitting just above Town in the table, but having played several games more.
The two sides are far from strangers to one another. This was the third occasion already this season that we had met. The FA Cup tie had ended with a 2-1 Guisborough win and the League fixture at the same ground had ended 3-3 after Guisborough had squandered their advantage three times.

Momentum is a popular buzzword in modern sport. Coaches talk about it, players capitalise upon it and supporters wish that when their team had it, it could be seized and bottled for release on matchday. Perhaps this is exactly what Chris Hardy had done. For the first twenty minutes of today’s encounter, it was as though Wednesday’s win had been minutes ago. The back four looked settled, McPhillips was at his tricky best on the left hand side and Decosomo’s penetrating runs from deep were forcing Jarrow onto the defensive.

A goal seemed likely and a goal duly arrived. Fresh from his thundering volleyed goal against Spennymoor, Shane Henry smashed a left footed shot on the turn which thundered against the underside of the bar and bounced down on the line. Roberts was quickest to respond and lashed the ball into the opposite corner to open the scoring. Having scored one, Guisborough looked as though they might score another. They did. As the ball was played across the penalty area from the right hand side, I’Anson swivelled and acrobatically diverted the ball into the far corner. With half-time still some way off, Austin Johnson broke through the home defence and looked to have secured a three goal advantage as he sidefooted the ball past the visiting keeper. The ball struck the inside of the post, but again it was a Guisborough player that was quickest to respond as Chris I’Anson doubled his own personal tally and afforded his side a three goal cushion.
Jarrow and shipbuilding were once synonymous, with more than 80% of the working population employed in the trade in the early years of the last century. The Jarrow of today, shorn of its shipbuilding and much of its manufacturing base, is a very different place. At 3-0 down and with Guisborough in search of more goals, Jarrow’s ship appeared to be sinking and there was a genuine danger that the home side’s lead would be unassailable by half-time. But sometimes when an opponent is on the ropes, the worst possible thing to do is to let your guard down. Casual defending allowed a Jarrow chance which was well taken and suddenly the visitors were handed a lifeline. In their nine previous away games, Jarrow had scored 23 goals. They were pacy up front and it was clear that they could cause problems, despite the absence of the muscular Aris Guerin-Lokongo. The twenty year old has just returned from a trial with Plymouth Argyle, where he reputedly impressed before being injured and forced to return home.

The second half incredibly saw no more goals. Jarrow had chances, Guisborough had chances and the game could have ended 6-3. As Jarrow pushed forward in an attempt to get back into the game, gaps appeared at the back and Roberts more than once could have added to his opening goal.

The win lifted Guisborough out of the bottom three, but it also took on greater significance when other results filtered through. Tow Law secured a point (having looked likely to take all three points against Newton Aycliffe), Marske beat Shildon 2-1 and South Shields overcame Bishop Auckland. At the moment, it seems as though anybody can beat anybody.

The fixtures at the moment come thick and fast. On Tuesday we travel to Bridlington to face Scarborough Athletic in the North Riding Senior Cup and on Friday night we face third bottom Billingham Town at Bedford Terrace. It’s perhaps a little early on in the season to describe it as a six pointer, but it’s pretty important. Hopefully an inflated Friday night crowd will be treated to a classic local clash.

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