Guisborough Town 3 – 1 Tow Law
A number of years back, Tow Law Town had the unusual but not totally unique experience of arriving at their ground to find that the pitch had sunk in the middle, rather like a Victoria sponge prematurely removed from the oven. Old mine workings were discovered beneath the pitch and a more than liberal supply of cement was needed to fill it in. Similar holes are appearing in Tow Law’s season and their remarkable record of never having been relegated from the First Division of the Northern League is looking far from impregnable. After a 3-1 defeat today, they are seriously at risk of being cast adrift from the rest of the pack in their second-bottom position. Unfortunately, not everything can be solved by concrete.
Tow Law began the game exactly as I had expected; they were hungry, keen and committed and arguably had the better of the play in the opening fifteen minutes. One moment characterised their performance today and possibly their season, though there will be better placed people than me to judge. The ‘one moment’ occurred as a chance was conjured from nothing by the visitors. They pressed and harried the home defence and their persistence paid off. Their centre forward unselfishly squared the ball on the edge of the box but the onrushing midfielder, who had made good ground, dithered over his shot and allowed the home defence to recover and block his effort.
Guisborough promptly went up to the other end of the field and within minutes were ahead as Austin Johnson, similarly placed to his Tow Law counterpart, lashed the ball in from close range as the ball bobbled around on the edge of the box. Tow law heads refused to drop and player manager Davidson, rallying his troops from left full back position, was central to much of their continued efforts. They were unlucky not
to equalise as a shot cannoned off a post and despite entering the dressing room a goal behind, they will have felt very much in the game.
When your side is pushing for a goal, there is the dangerous balance to strike of pushing enough to score, but not pushing so hard that your side concedes again. On the occasions when Tow Law looked at their most dangerous in the second period, they also appeared at their most vulnerable. The pace of Roberts and second-half substitute Blackford was a growing threat for Guisborough as they looked to break. Allied with this, Luke Bythway was difficult to track and impossible to pin down in his role running from deep. A second Guisborough goal arrived when good work from Poole and Bythway put Steel in the clear and he beat the keeper at the second attempt. At 2-0 the game should really have been sewn up. The fact that Tow Law pulled a goal back and gave themselves a chance is to their credit. A deflected corner from Turbull was well met by Thompson at the far post, to potentially set up a nervous finale. As it happened, Tow Law’s goal was a false dawn. Roberts, at his most slippery and evasive on the right hand side, finally carried out what he had threatened to do all afternoon when he lashed home from the right hand side of the box having been put in the clear. Up until this point, Tow Law had coped well with all that was thrown at them. This third goal was a killer blow and like a fighter that has soaked up several punches, this one took the wind out of them. Had Guisborough been more decisive in front of goal in three one-one-one situations, the margin of the scoreline could have been greater. In truth, this would have been tough on Tow Law who had contributed to a good game of football on a greasy surface after early morning rain.
Tow Law will not give in and it was easy to see why seven days ago they had almost matched Whitley Bay, narrowly losing 1-0. Their lead up play today was good, but they are desperately short of goals and a record of only 28 goals scored in 31 games puts enormous pressure on their defence to be watertight.
Football pundits often cite the forty-point barrier as being the figure required to ensure safety within a division. This differs from year to year, but as Guisborough pass this figure with twelve games left, they must now be looking to consolidate a mid-table position. The Priorymen sit second in the form table on the basis of the last six games having taken fifteen of a possible eighteen points.
West Auckland, having progressed to the next round of the FA vase having impressively beaten Bournemouth away this afternoon, arrive at the KGV on Wednesday. Let’s just hope that their celebrations tonight go on and on....and on. I’ve no problem with them suffering a hangover on Wednesday. Something tells me that they will be just as focused as ever when they arrive with a potential league title to also play for. They are a terrific team with a tremendous opportunity this season to capture two significant honours. Guisborough will enter the game
with confidence, hoping to upset the applecart. It is a tantalising prospect.