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Guisborough Town have secured their third successive North Riding Senior Cup Final, with Middlesbrough again the opposition.

By Bill Perfitt

Magnificent Guisborough Town reached the final of the North Riding Senior Cup for the third successive season when they beat arch-rivals Marske United 2-1 in a stirring semi-final at the KGV Stadium on Wednesday.

In a memorable, pulsating match that had a healthy crowd of 338 absorbed from start to finish, the Priorymen rediscovered their best form from earlier in the season to deservedly dispose of their Seaside rivals Marske and earn a place in the final against Middlesbrough U-21/Reserves.

It was a full-blooded, all-action and totally committed semi-final and both teams deserve massive credit for giving their all from start to finish.

The final (venue and date to be confirmed later) will be the third time in a row that Guisborough and Middlesbrough U-21s have contested the North Riding FA’s premier regional cup final.

In 2013/14 the Priorymen scored a memorable 1-0 victory at the Riverside to lift the trophy then last season Middlesbrough avenged that by beating Guisborough 1-0 with a last-ditch goal at the KGV.

So the two sides will now do battle again in the final for the third time in a row – obviously Guisborough Town management, players and fans are hoping it will be at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium, but with Boro looking like they might be involved in the Championship play-offs again this season, it is not possible to make a final decision yet. An announcement on the final details will be made as soon as it is possible to do so.

Guisborough went into the eagerly-awaited semi-final tie against Marske on Wednesday night with a poor run of only two wins in their last six games behind them while their opponents had won all six of their previous matches.

But the Priorymen turned the form book upside down and never allowed the Seasiders to settle with a high-tempo, tough-tackling approach which had their opponents on the back foot right from the kick-off.

Marske barely mustered a shot on the Guisborough goal in the first 45 minutes whereas the Priorymen went close on three occasions through Danny Earl, Connor Smith and Curt Round. Guisborough finally made their marked superiority count and went ahead in the 37th minute with a superb goal fashioned by midfielder Ste Snaith and finished off magnificently by leading scorer Earl.

Snaith put a great ball through to Earl out on the wing and he raced clear, cut inside and unleashed a brilliant shot from about 20 yards out which went like an Exocet missile into the far corner of the net to give Guisborough a thoroughly deserved 1-0 lead.

Earlier in the 20th minute, Marske striker Jamie Owens was injured in a 50-50 tackle with Ste Snaith and sadly Owens had to be stretchered off. His loss was unlucky for Marske and certainly blunted their usual sharp attacking cutting edge.

After the interval it was Guisborough who continued to make most of the running in attack and it was no surprise when they doubled their lead to 2-0 in the 56th minute when Earl and Smith linked well to feed the ball across the Marske goal to Pete Bulmer who lashed home from 12 yards.

The Priorymen continued to look dangerous up front and to create some excellent chances and should have made the game safe by at least a 3-0 margin before Marske got back into the game 12 minutes from time. A Reece Kelly shot from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Bulmer’s foot and the ball looped over Nick Liversedge and into the net to give Marske hope at only 2-1 down.

With only minutes remaining Kelly had a great chance to earn an unlikely draw for his side but he shot weakly at Liversedge when in a great position and Guisborough held on to deservedly win a memorable cup tie. Ste Snaith was chosen as Guisborough Supporters’ and Manager’s Man-of-the-Match and Reece Kelly won the Marske accolade. In truth, any number of Guisborough’s heroic players could have been chosen for the honour.

Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling said after the match: “I thought we were really excellent tonight- some of our passing and movement caused all sorts of problems for an in-form Marske side and we took a deserved lead though an excellent Danny Earl goal which his overall play thoroughly deserved.

“We felt we should have gone in a couple of goals up at half-time with Earl and Connor Smith doing very well against a very strong Marske defence.

“The second half was never going to be as open and Marske put the pressure on is but we still created good chances to increase our lead and we did precisely that through another excellently-worked goal scored by Peter Bulmer who along with the rest of his team-mates was having a great game.

“We continued to create chances but let Marske back into the game and had to defend strongly in the last 15 minutes.

“I thought Leon Carling, Andy May and Nick Liversedge coped very well in our defence and we managed to see the game out. I went for Steve Snaith as our Man of the Match but thought everyone deserved praise for some superb performances and Steve was run close for the accolade by Connor Smith and Danny Earl,” added a delighted Dowling.

It is easy to forget how young many of Guisborough’s players such as Snaith and Smith are and they typified the fighting spirit of the entire team as they hobbled off towards the end barely able to walk let alone run!

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