Lions Maul Bloods as Promotion Hunt Begins in Style
Guiseley 7 – 1 Droylsden
LS Sport’s Andrew Belt paid a visit to Guiseley AFC of the Blue Square North – an affordable and entertaining alternative to Elland Road…
Last Saturday, a non-league team from Leeds succeeded where the city’s main football club failed, and beat Histon away from home. Leeds United’s 1-0 defeat at Histon is arguably the Whites’ most humiliating defeat in the history of the club, but followers of Guiseley were afforded a 4-1 victory at the scene of the giant-killing in 2008, on the opening day of the 2012/13 Blue Square Conference North season.
The Lions go into their third season in the Conference North – the highest division Guiseley have ever played in – on the back of two successive near misses in the Play-Offs since reaching this level and, whilst the trip to the Glassworld Stadium left Leeds fans reflecting on the lowest point in the proud club’s history, the thrashing Steve Kittrick’s men handed out last Saturday could kick-start the greatest achievement in the non-leaguers’ own more modest story so far.
Kittrick trimmed his squad over the summer to accommodate younger players into the Lions’ set-up and optimism is high at Nethermoor, with Guiseley establishing themselves as promotion contenders over the past two seasons and remaining firmly focussed on progressing to the top-tier of non-league football. On Tuesday, they entertained Droylsden and stormed to a 7-1 victory over the Lancashire club in a performance that justified the pre-season ‘promotion favourites’ tag.
Nethermoor is a half-hour 97 bus journey from the centre of Leeds and, with expensive tickets and fluctuating fortunes putting off visitors from going to Elland Road, provides a worthwhile alternative for football fans in the city as Guiseley embark on what is likely to be a fascinating push for a landmark promotion. Heavy rain persevered throughout the afternoon on Tuesday and probably contributed to a slightly disappointing attendance of 431 – about two-thirds of the average for last season’s campaign.
Far less disappointing was the display from the home side as they ripped Droylsden to pieces and the 431 spectators were rewarded with a sunny evening to watch the drama unfold. Despite the long, sodden grass, that would look more at home in the adjacent cricket pitch that hugs the stadium, Guiseley played a fast-paced passing game and took the lead in the 7th minute when Nicky Boshell played a one-two with striker Josh Wilson on the left-hand side of the penalty area and smashed the ball home from 8 yards out.
Boshell, playing in the left midfield berth, was showing flashes of brilliance as his brother, Danny, controlled the traffic in the middle of the pitch and both sides were creating chances in a lively start to the game. The only difference was that Lions keeper, Steve Drench, was saving everything in his path whilst his opposite number was picking the ball out of his net for the second time after Wilson and ex-Leeds United trainee Gavin Rothery linked up in a near-identical move to that of the first goal on the right-hand side, and Wilson slotted the ball neatly into the corner of the goal-frame in the 22nd minute.
Perhaps the pivotal moment of the game arrived on the half-hour mark as Droylsden striker, Joe O’ Neill, had a wonderful opportunity palmed to safety by the impressive Drench and Guiseley conspired to set off on a fast counter-attack from the resulting corner which led to Rothery’s tenacious tackle and well-measured through-ball finding Wayne Brooksby for the home side’s third. Two minutes later, Rothery got his second assist, playing in Nicky Boshell who grabbed his brace in stunning fashion – lofting the ball over unfortunate Bloods keeper, Paul Phillips, from inside the area.
A performance that justified the pre-season ‘promotion favourites’ tag
The two quickly-taken goals had drawn Droylsden’s best spell of the game to a close and tensions threatened to spill over as arguments in the Bloods’ ranks broke out in some areas on the pitch and Shaun Holden and Mike Conner were cautioned for the away side. Rhys Meynell should have made it five for Guiseley but shot weakly when one-on-one with Phillips and Droylsden were just glad to get to the dressing room at half-time after being pummelled by the Lions 4-0, with further damage seeming likely the longer play went on.
After the break, the high tempo of the first-half was slowed down and, but for a few more Droylsden yellow cards, little happened until Brooksby surged into the penalty area and was brought down by the hapless Phillips. Tricky winger, Rothery, chipped a cheeky effort from the spot past Phillips to make it 5-0 and Droylsden looked completely shattered at this point. The Bloods were handed a reprieve in the 76th minute when a fair challenge outside the box was ludicrously deemed by referee Martin Coy to be worthy of a penalty and Lee Rick scored a barely-deserved consolation for Droylsden.
The man-of-the-match, Wilson, passed in a sixth in the 82nd minute and Stephen Brogan scored a seventh on a memorable night at Nethermoor. Brogan, a former Rotherham midfielder, has joined Guiseley permanently after Southend United ended their interest in the player.
It’s now two wins, 11 goals and two conceded from two outings for Guiseley and, whatever happens from now until next May, you can be sure that the Lions are hungry for blood and will be good value for money in the process.
Guiseley have two upcoming home fixtures: vs. Gainsborough Trinity on Saturday 25th August and vs. Gloucester on Saturday 1st September (both 3pm kick off)
Ticket prices are £10 for Adults and £6 for Concessions. Details can be found here.