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Thursday, November 17, 2011

More for Priorymen, less for Moors

Guisborough Town 2 - 1 Spennymoor Town

There is a wonderful feeling about being the underdog and securing a triumph against all odds. Winning when you’re not meant to is one of the sweetest feelings, like proving a teacher wrong who said you’d never make the grade. Having lost to Newton Aycliffe (despite controlling possession for the bulk of the game) a win against reigning champions Spennymoor seemed as unlikely as a cold day in hell. Third bottom against fourth top seemed a mismatch.

The old saying – that the table doesn’t lie – is only a partial truth. With several games in hand on surrounding teams and with a young side gradually finding their feet in a faster and more demanding division, Guisborough are a better side than many would anticipate. With a new formation with I’Anson central and two runners in Roberts and McPhillips overlapping, the home side began brightly and Roberts’ effort forced visiting ‘keeper Turns to live up to his name and push the ball past the post. Not to be discouraged, Guisborough pressed forward again and Shane Henry managed to prod the ball in the bottom corner, despite pressure from several defenders.

It felt like a matter of time before Spennymoor got back into the game. They were quick and incisive and it was the movements of Ruddy which caught the eye. He was difficult to pin down as he came deep to collect possession before spreading play and spinning off his marker. Like many small players, Ruddy’s low centre of gravity afforded him a split second extra time on the turn and he looked Spennymoor’s most likely threat. Ruddy great, Ruddy brilliant. Or from a home perspective, get him Ruddy well marked.

The game remained 1-0 as the half time break arrived. The home optimists mused over the possibilities of hanging on for an unlikely win. Those holding a pint which was half-empty pointed out Spennymoor’s depth on the bench and that they would carve out second half chances to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Whilst in part it was true that the visitors controlled second-half possession, a Herculean effort from Guisborough saw Spennymoor players being harried, harassed on the ball and generally made to feel that they had no time to pull the strings and to pull home defenders out of position. When the Spennymoor equaliser arrived, it was Moore for the Moors as he flicked the ball past Jack Norton from a well directed free-kick.

If the script had returned to convention, Guisborough hadn’t read it. The goal to win the game was a beauty. McPhillips – fighting tiredness and defying the odds to keep the ball in and prevent a goal-kick – spotted Shane Henry’s run from deep. His cross to the edge of the box surprised the home defence, who perhaps expected the ball to be delivered into the six-yard box. The onrushing Henry barely broke stride in thumping the ball home to the delight of the home support. There were moments of stress and with minutes left the ball was fizzed across the home side’s box and was as close as wet is to water as the onrushing forwards strained to reach the cross. The home fans were more tense than a campsite and it was to great relief that the final whistle blew.

This was a win against all expectations. Equally pleasing was the good natured banter with Spennymoor’s excellent travelling support. Whilst they were disgruntled with the result, both the fans and manager Jason Aindsley were gracious in defeat. Perhaps with half an eye on Saturday’s FA Vase clash, Aindsley had rested several players. Saturday takes the Moors to Barnoldswick Town and their stadium – the Silentnight stadium. Ainsley was left with a number of things to sleep on in the days leading up to a Second Round FA Vase clash.
Barnoldswick is also home to the Rolls Royce. When at full speed and fully functioning, Spennymoor are more than capable of returning from Lancashire with their FA Vase on track. I for one very much hope they manage it.

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