Times are hard, money is tight – the country is in a recession and paying today’s prices at football turnstiles is becoming harder to justify (especially when your team is Grimsby Town and it appears determined to discover new lows with annoying regularity). So, if it’s value for money you’re after, look no further than Guiseley AFC.
Back in September I blogged about my visit to Nethermoor Park when I watched the Lions take apart Vauxhall Motors 4-1 on Non League Day. The visit was partly motivated by a desire to see how former Town players Jamie Clarke, Danny Boshell and Ciaran Toner performed for a club in the division below the Mariners, but as it turned out I left feeling thoroughly entertained by an impressive team performance from the home side that would coax me back for a second time.
Whilst waiting for the game to start I got talking to a couple of Guiseley fans. Last weekend they had travelled up to Ashington for an FA Cup third qualifying round match, which they lost 1-0. Had they won, the Lions would have netted £12,000 and a visit to Blundell Park in the next round. That’s when I revealed my identity as a Grimsby fan, to which one of the supporters responded, ‘Well, I used to play for Ashington!’ John, a retired bank manager who now lives within a stone’s throw of Nethermoor, grew up in the north east and turned out for his local side on a number of occasions but now, living in West Yorkshire, he’s a converted Guiseley fan. The defeat to Ashington rankled with him. His friend, Dave, requested that Grimsby give them ‘a good thumping’ next weekend. I said I couldn’t promise such a thing.
Guiseley’s impressive home record, coupled with Hyde’s undefeated start to the season, caught the attention of the Non League Paper who made it their feature match in Sunday’s edition. They wouldn’t have been disappointed with what they saw.
But for the first 20 minutes, chances – half or otherwise – were few and far between. Hyde’s Callum Byrne was a source of concern for the Guiseley midfield while striker Scott Spencer was also menacing as he looked to pick holes in the home side’s defence. Ryan Crowther blasted a free kick wide and Byrne saw a low shot comfortably held by home keeper Steve Drench.
For Guiseley it was a more patient approach as they looked to work the ball into wide positions. A great ball from the back got new signing Kevin Gall away on the left but there was no one in the box to cross to. Toner saw a shot from distance drift over the bar before Gall worked his way into the box and had a shot and the near post turned away by David Carnell in the Hyde goal.
The game was opening up and Hyde’s Danny Broadbent saw his 18-yard effort deflected. From the resulting corner Chris Worsley went close as he steered his side-foot volley just wide of the far post. The match was evenly balanced and it looked like it would require a bit of quality to breach either defence.
That quality arrived a minute before the break when Guiseley striker Lee Ellington flicked a ball wide for Gavin Rothery, and his pass back to Clarke was swung over first time to the back post where Ellington rose highest to head into the roof of the net. It was a great move that opened up Hyde for the first time as their centre back pairing of Danny Hall and Gianluca Havern had previously given Guiseley very few sights of goal.
There was a delay to the start of the second half after the match referee was taken ill. A different official took to the pitch after the break – as did a different Hyde defence, or so it seemed, as it looked unrecognisable from the one that competed so well up until half time. Right back Andy Pearson allowed Gall to steal in 18 yards out but he curled his effort wide of the post. Winger Rothery cut in from the right and saw his tame effort held down low by Carnell before his deep swinging cross had to be tipped wide for a corner. Some neat interchange play between Boshell and Ellington almost set the midfielder free and Rothery was soon back in on the action as his one-two with Ellington sent him into the box. Carnell did well to turn his low shot away but it fell to Gall who blasted over an open goal from five yards. It wasn’t quite the memorable debut that Gall had perhaps imagined as he was subbed off soon afterwards to be replaced by Gavin Allott.
Despite Guiseley’s dominance, Hyde threatened when left back Adam Griffin crossed and the clearance was hammered just wide of the post by captain David Birch. Allott headed wide from a Dave Merris cross before Hyde had a goal disallowed for offside. Going into the last 20 minutes it was all Guiseley and they continued to create chances. Boshell had a shot well saved before another excellent cross from Clarke saw Allott head wide. Ellington was the next to get in but his low shot was again saved by Carnell, and the keeper was soon at it again, denying Allott from 12 yards.
With just a few minutes remaining Ellington was one of three Guiseley players who raced through a now deserted Hyde defence but he lifted his effort over the bar, however the second goal finally came on 88 minutes when Allott side-footed home from inside the area.
Considering Hyde arrived unbeaten in the league, this was an impressive performance and result. Competition to get into the Conference from this division, however, is fierce as elsewhere Stalybridge romped to a 5-1 win over Altrincham to go top. Guiseley remain third but are well placed to make a challenge for promotion going into the winter months. Confidence is high and crowds are on the up (522 on Non League Day and 789 against Hyde).
Only 11 teams stand between Grimsby and Guiseley in the league ladder and certainly, on the two performances I’ve seen from the Lions this season, there’s nothing to suggest they wouldn’t hold their own in the Conference. Guiseley have won six of their seven games at home this season and no other team in the division has scored more goals in front of their own fans. They welcomed the undefeated league leaders to Nethermoor and sent them packing with an accomplished display.
For £10 I’d say watching Guiseley represents fantastic value for money.
*All match images courtesy of Andy Withey at www.onematchimage.com.