Sunday, 12 August 2012

Town throw it away as late Johnson header sends Guisborough through


NORTHALLERTON TOWN saw their FA Cup dreams brought to a premature end as they somehow contrived to twice throw away a two goal lead against Ebac Northern League Division One side Guisborough Town at the RGPS on Saturday.

For 65 minutes Mark Fanning's side were in complete control against their more illustrious visitors, as a debut brace from Adam Emson and a goal from James Bowman gave them a fully deserved 3-1 lead. But some suicidal defending in the final twenty-five minutes saw Guisborough come back to snatch a dramatic victory.

"We were comfortable," said manager Mark Fanning. "They had barely threatened but we gave away a soft goal and it gave them a lift. The disappointing thing is we did not learn from it and gave them two more. Then, having got ourselves back into it, we fall asleep at the end. To say I am disappointed is an under-statement."

Fanning's first team selection of the new season saw him make four changes to the side that had drawn away at Billingham the previous week.

James Briggs returned in goal behind a back four of Stephen Banks, Grant Hickman, Craig Winter and Stu Dunn. Marcus Laing was back in a three-man midfield, making his official club debut alongside Martin Butterworth and Gav Parkin, with Col Anderson and Bowman supporting lone-striker Emson - another making his first competitive appearance for the club.

The tough pre-season campaign looked to have paid off for Town in a dominant first half performance. Anderson and Emson were combining well up front while the high defensive line was catching Guisborough forwards Billy Blackford and Nathan Steele offside on numerous occasions.

Town were close to breaking the deadlock midway through the half when a great cross from the left by Emson would have been headed home by Laing from 6 yards had it not been for a fine block by defender Michael Jameson.

The danger was not quite over for the Priorymen, however, as the resulting corner - whipped in from the left by Parkin - saw Hickman denied by visiting goalkeeper James Escritt.

But it was 1-0 eight minutes before the break. Referee Darren Whatling spotted a push in the area by Mark Casey on Parkin - as he attacked a corner from the right by Emson - and pointed to the spot. Emson stepped up and while his initial kick was kept out by Escritt, he reacted quickly to smash the rebound into the roof of the net - his first goal for the club.

The Town fans behind the goal had barely stopped celebrating when their heroes doubled their advantage. Anderson clipped a lovely ball through to Bowman who coolly rounded Escritt at the second attempt before rolling home from 12 yards.

But with half time approaching Town switched off at the back and were made to pay. A long ball from the back by ex-Town defender Lee Bythway caught the home defence square and Blackford ran through to slot past Briggs.

"We just needed to see it out at 2-0 until half time," said Fanning. "We had a free kick and instead of knocking it into the corner for Col (Anderson) to chase, we committed too many forward and were caught out."

That looked like being the turning point as Guisborough started the second half on the front-foot. Indeed they thought they had equalised five minutes after the resumption when Adam Gell turned home a cross from Blackford, but assistant referee Peter Hartley had already flagged for offside.

But what could have been 2-2 suddenly became 3-1. Anderson, who was now at the heart of everything, put Emson through on the right-hand edge of of the area and he made it a perfect debut by firing past Escritt from eight yards.

Guisborough looked a beaten side now and it was very nearly 4-1 on the hour. Emson, now on a hat-trick of course, found space on the edge of the penalty area but shot narrowly over the top.

Then, almost out of nowhere, the visitors found a way back into the tie. Town's high defensive line, which had looked so assured earlier, was caught out again by a long ball over the top and Gell ran through to beat Briggs from 18 yards.

That changed the whole complexion of the match and Guisborough turned it completely on its head with two goals in six minutes. In a repeat of both the earlier goals, the Town defence was unable to deal with a ball over the top and this time substitute Lewis Wood profited as he rounded Briggs to make it 3-3.

Incredibly the visitors then went in front for the first time thirteen minutes from time. Liam O'Sullivan beat the offside trap down the left and found Gell to slot home his second from close range.

Town refused to let their heads drop, however, and showed the character they will need throughout the coming nine months. With just nine minutes remaining Bowman sent a lovely ball over the top of the Guisborough defence and Anderson got the goal his all-round display deserved with a cool finish from a tight angle.

But, with the 118 fans making their travel arrangements for the midweek replay at Guisborough, the visitors won it. Liam McPhillips was given far too much room to cross from the left and, as the clock ticked down towards the 90 minute mark, Austin Johnson placed a perfect header beyond the reach of Briggs to send Guisborough through.

NORTHALLERTON TOWN - Briggs, Banks, Hickman, Winter, Dunn, Laing, Butterworth(M), Parkin, Anderson, Bowman, Emson. Subs - Roberts, Craggs, Butterworth(S), Cook, Chillingsworth.

GUISBOROUGH TOWN - Escritt, Connor, O'Sullivan, Bythway(Lee), Casey, Gell, Jameson, Johnson, Blackford, Steele, McPhillips. Subs - Harris, Matthews, Foster, Wood, Guy.

REFEREE; D. Whatling



  1. The dissapointment is hard to take but we should not let this result damage the whole season . Yes the prize money would have been nice ,but it is progress in the league we need . The boss knows what the problems were yesterday and will resolve them .

  2. I'll tell you what needs to change - the negative attitude of some of our so-called 'supporters.' Guisborough are a division above us and only managed to beat us in the last minute. We gave them one hell of a game and perhaps should have won. That shows what a decent performance it was. I tend not to give my opinion in these reports as they are meant to be factual, but I will make an exception here. I thought we played well yesterday. Yes the defending was poor in the final 25 minutes, we all know that, but perhaps we should focus more on the positives. We showed character, carried a big attacking threat and were close to causing an upset. I'd say we should all be proud of what they gave.

  3. Time for change is a positive! You may not like it, but its a positive statement. Had I said do you think we should do something or shall we stay the same, then that would be negative.

    when you play a high line, its important to keep the ball until a chance is created failure to do so allows your opponents to play balls in behind you, ring any bells! If possession is lost, then the players in the opponets half must press the ball quickly, failure to do so allows the ball over the top. We are not the quickest at the back so you get picked off. Even if you fail to win the ball back, pressure on the ball will effect the quality of the forward pass allowing us to regain the ball or stop the attack and counter attack. first half the quality of the forward pass was poor,however, they got it right the second half. Now the question, do they all understand the concept of playing a high line or is there some confusion.

  4. We have played one competitive match which ended in a last minute defeat to a club from the division above. Hardly time for knee-jerk reactions.

  5. Its just like the last four seasons. My point is, its not just one match its four seasons of games with the same ending, mid table after lots of investment, if it were shares I'd be selling them for the simple reason of a poor return.

  6. I was going to tell you how to defend a 2 goal lead but I fear it may well fall upon deaf ears.