Guisborough Town 1 Bedlington Terriers 1
As the old saying goes, if we played like that every week we wouldn’t be so inconsistent. Faced with the tough task of securing points from a clash with Bedlington Terriers, Guisborough deserved their point against a side with good credentials and the ever present threat of Shandran and Richardson in attack.
Mention the name Bedlington to anyone and there is a strong chance that they will associate the place with the famed Bedlington Terrier, a dog with a woollen coat which strongly resembles a sheep. The dog features on the club crest, but for the first forty five minutes the Terriers were seriously lacking bite. Guisborough controlled possession, with the evergreen Willie Boland revelling in his role playing in front of the back four. He took every opportunity to spread the play and with Bedlington playing very narrow and with a lack of width, Guisborough’s forays down the flanks looked most likely to break the deadlock. Despite the home side’s superior first-half possession, chances were few and far between and with the game deadlocked at half-time, Bedlington were given the opportunity to regroup and reassess their tactics.
Rather than introduce more width, the visitors evidently sensed that their biggest threat was the Little and Large combination of Richardson and Shandran, with the former player’s pace complementing Shandran’s physicality, good close control and ability to shield the ball. They played the ball long to Shandran, who looked menacing with his aerial presence and ability to turn the defence. Having looked fairly comfortable – if at times slightly stretched – an aberration in the home defence allowed Richardson to give the visitors the lead. As Town were forced to push forward in search of an equaliser, more gaps appeared and Richardson’s pace took him through on goal. A poor first touch saw the forward overrun the ball. He then went to ground, claiming a penalty. Optimists may say that he merely lost his balance; others suggested that Richardson was disingenuous in his claims. A similar incident ten minutes later towards the home side’s own corner flag did nothing to appease those home fans that felt that the forward went to ground too easily. Shortly afterwards, Shandran twisted and turned on the edge of the box before curling a left footed shot which struck the base of the post and bounced straight back into keeper Norton’s arms. It was a moment of sublime skill and indicative of why Shandran already has thirteen goals to his name this season.
Having weathered this storm, the home side gradually began to assert themselves. With the added pace of Decosomo and Roberts introduced, Bedlington began to look stretched. Boland dinked the ball into Shane Henry’s path and as he surged past two players, Henry shot on the run into the bottom corner to round off an excellent team move. By now, both teams looked stretched and Guisborough were forced to reshuffle when Casey was withdrawn from action with what looked like a pulled groin muscle. I’Anson went close and on several occasions, the ball was flashed across the box without anyone getting on the end of it. Yet the visitors could have left with all three points, but for a stunning one handed save from Jack Norton as he flung himself to his right and prevented a certain goal.
Guisborough have now only lost three times in the last eleven games and this was an assured performance against a strong side. Bedlington have some fine players and their two previous games had yielded strong victories against League leaders Sunderland RCA and one of last season’s front runners, Newcastle Benfield. Last season, Shandran and Richardson (then of Spennymoor) bagged 38 league goals between them. To keep them relatively quiet was significant and the defence looked settled with the return of Lee Bythway, partnering Mark Casey in defence. Shane Henry is coming into form and looking increasingly comfortable with the added pace and vigour of the First Division. Every game in the first division is tough; but we have games in hand and a couple of wins will lift us towards the middle of the table.
The Bedlington supporters were pleasant; in good voice and in good numbers. They even won the raffle prize, despite their consternation at having to take a share of the points. I will look forward to our visit to Northumberland later in the season. Between now and then there are twenty games; a lot of water is to pass under the bridge – be it the Tees or the Wansbeck. How the teams will line up in the league table by that point will be very interesting.