Guiseley 2 Gloucester City 1 (18th Jan 2020)
You know it’s a cold day when you are twelve minutes into a game, and you are already thinking about half time, and the chance to get inside into the warm. It hadn’t seemed too bad driving up, with the clear blue skies making everything look more like March than January. Inside the ground, however, it was a different story. If Formula 1 teams wish to test the aerodynamics of their latest cars, they could just take them up to Guiseley’s Nethermoor Park, as it seems to be a very effective wind tunnel.
Furthermore, there seemed almost nowhere to take shelter, as if the wind had a mind of it’s own, and its icy fingers would seek you out wherever you tried to hide. Even an oddly shaped wedge of covered terracing near the bar didn’t help, as for some reason it had no back wall for most of its length. It did feature a dog almost large enough to act as a wind break itself, but anyone standing near it risked being eaten whole if it got peckish. Like much of the terracing at the ground, it featured crush barriers of a thickness that looked sufficient to stop tanks in their tracks, let alone the few hundred hardy souls who stood on the shallow steps to watch Guiseley most week.
If there’s one thing that does warm you, as a neutral, it’s an early goal to kill off those “I hope this doesn’t end 0-0” fears. Gloucester did the honours after just three minutes, heading in from a corner, but the play quickly went into a pattern of Guiseley being on top, and Gloucester having the odd break.
Gloucester didn’t seem very confident in defence, and Guiseley were quick to pounce on mistakes. Had they actually been more confident in actually making the most of the mistakes, it could have been comfortable home win, rather than the battle it became.
Guiseley thought they’d equalised after twelve minutes, when the ball pinged around a packed box, to be turned in from close range. Only the little kids nearby didn’t notice the offside flag raised though, but it set the tone for a half of disappointing ends to promising positions for Guiseley.
The welcome relief of half time was delayed by a clash of heads that resulted in a Gloucester defender being stretchered off, looking like he didn’t know what day it was. While that was a serious injury, the only thing hurt during half time itself was the pride of a group of kids who decided to play football on the adjoining field. Playing football in normal shoes on muddy and slippy grass is not likely to end well, but they seemed to have fun, despite it looking like a cross between football and Bambi On Ice at times.
No such comedy during the real game, but Guiseley seemed to get more inventive in their ways of not scoring. It looked every inch like a game where they’d go on to win if only they equalised, but it wasn’t obvious they would.
Eventually it did come, with the ball squared from close range to offer a simple chance to side-foot in for 1-1. It made you wonder how they’d taken so long to level.
For all their troubles at getting one, it didn’t take long to get a second, but this one had an element of luck about it. A corner was swung in, no doubt aided by the wind, and it deceived the keeper. If the keeper’s embarrassment at not claiming the corner was bad enough, it came back off the post and hit him on the back, deflecting into the net for 2-1.
The goal was awarded to the corner-taker, his name shouted out by Guiseley’s hyper-excited PA guy, who read most announcements like they were an audition for Saturday-night TV gameshow work. That said, I’m sure the Gloucester keeper didn’t mind not getting the credit.
From there, the game sort of petered out, as if both teams were too frozen to truly care. Gloucester nearly had the last word, with the last kick of the game being a shot which was decent, but didn’t really have the power to trouble the keeper too much.
The youths on the far side of the pitch sang about Guiseley getting promotion. Older heads rolled their eyes. With news of Leeds United, just a few miles down the road, suffering yet another set-back in their 16 year bid to return to the top flight, folks in these parts clearly know the dangers of getting carried away too early.