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Guisborough earned a battling draw with Newcastle Benfield on Saturday, ahead of Monday night's clash with FA Vase finalists Morpeth.

By Bill Perfitt

Two quite brilliant individual goals – including a last-gasp wonder strike from ‘super sub’ Paul Blake - earned Guisborough Town a well-deserved point against Newcastle Benfield at the KGV Stadium.

With the Priorymen seemingly heading for a surprise defeat at the hands of a team 11 places below them in the table Blake – goal-scoring hero of the pulsating 3-2 midweek cup victory over Shildon – smashed home a 20 yard pile-driver in the 92nd minute which flew into the net off the underside of the bar to earn his side a precious point from a 2-2 draw.

Earlier in the 39th minute Guisborough full back Paul Roddam had scored an almost equally spectacular goal with the deftest of glancing headers to pull the Priorymen level at 1-1 as the interval approached.

Despite the hard-won point, however, Guisborough still slipped down a place in the league to sixth spot with some of the teams below them picking up points. But Guisborough have games in hand on the likes of Bishop Auckland and Washington who are just above them in the table, so a top four finish still looks well on the cards.

Guisborough Manager Steve Dowling felt his team played well in the first half but that the energy-sapping extra-time cup tie against Shildon last Wednesday understandably took its toll on his players in the second half against Benfield on Saturday.

Said Dowling afterwards: “In the first half I thought we played well and apart from a defensive mistake that gifted them a goal early on, we mounted constant attacks after that on their goal but were unable to score until Paul Roddam headed home on 39 minutes.

“After the interval second I just felt we looked a tired team and lacked same energy as we showed in the first half and Benfield came out and had the majority of the play and chances and took advantage of another error which gifted them their second goal.

“We made changes to bring on Paul Blake, Jack Bailey and Anthony Snook in the second period and this bolstered us up enough to get a last minute equaliser from a great 20 yard strike from young Blake. I went for Danny McWilliams as my man of the match but Paul Roddam certainly ran him close for the honour,” added Dowling.

Following on from their heroic and memorable midweek League Cup win over Shildon, the Priorymen were looking to consolidate their place in the top five but they got a real shock when they went behind after only four minutes’ play.

The normally hugely reliable centre back Leon Carling misplaced an attempted pass across his 18-yard line which went straight to Benfield centre forward Paul Brayson and he gave Guisborough ‘keeper Nick Liversedge no chance with a hard low shot into the corner of the net.

It wasn’t good and it wasn’t quite Carling (as the TV lager adverts go!) – and certainly not what we expect from the usually rock solid Town skipper so he can be forgiven the odd indiscretion!

Despite that early shock, Guisborough bounced back strongly and some great efforts from Chay Liddle, Danny Earl (twice) and Ste Snaith narrowly missed the target or were saved or blocked

But Guisborough deservedly drew level on 39 minutes with a delightful goal from full back Paul Roddam who, following a corner and with his back to goal, deftly craned his neck around to glance the ball into the far top corner of the Benfield net. Benfield almost regained the lead three minutes before half-time but Nick Liversedge – not for the first time – saved his side with an excellent save from Daniel Taylor.

In the second half Liversedge was the busiest of the two goalkeepers and he prevented Benfield from going back into the lead in the 67th minute with another great save from Brayson.

But five minutes later Brayson doubled his goals tally to a brace when he latched on to a huge clearance from Benfield keeper Andrew Grainger and raced clear to give Liversedge no chance. It was a classic ‘Route 1’ goal out of nothing.

Just when it seemed a visibly tiring Guisborough were going to have to resign themselves to defeat, Blake drilled home a superb equaliser from 20 yards in the second of the three minutes of time added on to give the Priorymen a deserved share of the spoils.

It was a goal of genuine rare class and quality from a Development Side graduate who continues to impress enormously. Paul is the nephew of former top pro Robbie Blake so the footballing genes are clearly in the family.

The match attendance was 153.

Guisborough are away to title challengers Morpeth on Monday night, 4 April (KO 7.45pm) as a gruelling season grinds on.

Meanwhile, the club’s highly-successful Under-23 Development Side play West Auckland Under-23s in the North Riding Youth Cup Final at Stokesley Sports and Social Club ground on Thursday, 7 April (KO 7.30pm). Guisborough supporters are urged to get along to the game to cheer on Town’s brilliant ‘young braves’.


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