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Guisborough were held to a disappointing draw at Newcastle Benfield, at the weekend

By Bill Perfitt

Guisborough Town Manager Steve Dowling described his side’s performance at Newcastle Benfield as ‘ rather lacklustre’ following on from the emphatic 6-2 midweek victory over Newton Aycliffe.

The point kept Guisborough in sixth position in the table and with two of the sides just above them – principally Seaham Red Star and Bishop Auckland having played significantly more games than two, a top-four finish still looks a realistic aspiration.

After the game at Benfield, Dowling commented: “This was a rather lacklustre display to say the least after the highs of Wednesday’s high-scoring victory over Newton Aycliffe.

“I thought Benfield were unlucky not to go in a couple of goals up at half time as we struggled to get our game going.

“In the second half I thought we performed better and we deserved won a penalty when Danny Earl was fouled after receiving a great pass from Pete Bulmer. Although Danny’s spot kick was saved he reacted quickly to dispatch home the rebound.

“Fair play to Benfield who battled to make the game square after a good cross headed home by Dan Taylor. Both sides had chance but a draw was a fair result. I went with full back Paul Roddam as my man of the match,” added Dowlo.

As football matches go, this clash between Benfield and the Priorymen was by no means a classic, with both sides playing some fairly scrappy football at times on a difficult surface which favoured no-one. At the final whistle, Guisborough could in reality feel slightly the luckier of the two sides to get a point.  

Benfield started positively and it took Guisborough a while to settle down before a 25 yard effort from Curtis Round which didn’t really trouble the confident looking Benfield keeper, Andrew Grainger.  At the other end a cheeky chipped shot from Daniel Taylor saw Nick Liversedge tip the ball over the bar and Taylor again tried his luck in the 22nd minute but this effort flew wide of the left hand post.  

Minutes later, under pressure Liversedge was beaten but the ball was headed clear by Leon Carling and in the 27th minute the home side should have taken the lead when Steve Baptiste’s side foot shot was somehow scrambled away by Guisborough’s hard-pressed defence. 

At this point in the game it looked like there was only one team who were likely to score and that was the home team, as they created a number of decent passing moves ensuring the Guisborough defence were kept constantly on their guard. When Guisborough moved forward, however, they did well enough in the first three quarters of the pitch but lacked any finishing in the final quarter - especially with a strong and resolute Benfield defence in front of them.  

Just before half time Benfield’s dangerous-looking and experienced striker Paul Brayson got the ball at his feet and he turned well in the box and shot low, only to be denied the opening goal by the legs of keeper Liversedge. As the ball was retrieved by the home side and delivered back across the area, Brayson again had a clear chance, only to see his shot fly inches past the post.  When the half time whistle sounded, Guisborough must have felt fortunate not to be at least one goal behind!  

In the second half the home side again started well and a failed clearance at the back by Guisborough allowed Brayson through on goal only for his side foot shot to again be saved by the long legs of Liversedge.

When the ball was quickly cleared downfield to Guisborough striker Danny Earl, he was tripped in the Benfield area and a penalty was awarded.  Earl took the penalty which was well saved by keeper Grainger, who unfortunately saw Earl charge in for the rebound and net the ball before any of his defenders moved in to help.   

Guisborough’s lead was rather against the run of play, but five minutes later Benfield got a deserved equalizer with a deep cross beating everyone in the area and in charged Daniel Taylor for an unchallenged header which sailed into an empty net.  

Guisborough then fought back more in the game and Earl could have extended their lead when he latched onto a through ball and rounded the keeper, only to see his tight angled shot cleared at the near post by defender Steve Tobin, having a good game for the home side.  Guisborough then made a few substitutions and one of them, Paul Blake, hit a superb 20 yard volley which rocketed inches over the bar.  

In the end, the game finished a 1-1 draw with the home side the more frustrated at only getting a single point after shading a game described by several at the match as a ‘typical end of season type game.’

Meanwhile, following the unprecedented glut of postponed games since the start of the New Year, Guisborough face a crowded finish to the season with no fewer than eight league games still to be played plus the long-awaited North Riding FA Senior Cup Final against Middlesbrough - the venue for which still depends on whether Boro are involved in the Championship play-offs or not.

The Priorymen face a grueling three matches on the trot on 2, 3 and 4 May of a season which has been specially extended to fit in the outstanding fixtures many teams still have to play. 

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