Image Credit [Max Meadows]
One season following Guiseley AFC, a club breathing new meaning into ‘the beautiful game’…
Guiseley AFC 3 – 1 Stourbridge FC
20th October 2018 15:00
Much can be gauged from a warm-up. As the Lions of Guiseley- fresh from their last-minute winner against Brackley last week- went through their pre-match routine, coach Marcus Bignot shouted a truncated version of the word ‘accelerate’ at them. It was either this, or the former QPR stalwart was simply demanding that his team ‘excel’ in today’s match- if the latter, they most certainly listened.
Watching nervously from the side, Andy, a Guiseley fan ‘whenever the Leeds aren’t playing’, put down his Macdonalds and exclaimed: “I’d be f***ing knackered after a drill like that.” Luckily, the Lions looked anything but, and the game started in a traditionally high yet somewhat aimless tempo.
On top of some textbook Nethermoor Park wind, the sun looked to be the latest element to dictate play on Saturday. Already low in the sky by 3pm, both keepers took turns to watch the game from under a clumsy gloved hand. Stourbridge had the best of the opening exchanges, and if Guiseley had hoped to silence the large contingent of travelling fans (whose name ‘The Red Army’ presumably has no connection to Soviet Communism) early on they needed to start finding some passes to feet.
It started to become clear that Stourbridge came for a scrap. As the team in the lower division of this cup tie, it seemed coach Mark Clifton’s message was along the lines of ‘let them know you’re there early on’. Guiseley’s Alex Purver, former Leeds U23, fell victim to a number of fouls in midfield that had many in the ground calling for early cards from the referee.
In response, Guiseley began to show flickerings of life in Bridge’s half, and there had been a sense their opening goal was coming. After good work on the left wing by Curtis Morrison won a free kick, centre back Will Thornton rose above the away side’s defence to head home. Just the nerve-settler that every bookies-favourite home side needs.
Quickly conceded equalisers, though, are becoming something of a theme at Nethermoor. Stourbridge hit back almost immediately, and in quite magnificent style, when Luke Benbow set himself up for an outrageous bicycle kick from the edge of the box that keeper Joe Green could do nothing but watch. “Get your fingers out,” shouted one Guiseley fan to his side’s defence, a severely uncomfortable prospect.
Half time came at 1-1, and Stourbridge had provided Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill with much to ponder during the break. Whatever they said worked; Guiseley emerged from the Deep Heat-infused tunnel a totally different side. Lone striker Kayode Odejayi had had a quiet first half, but now was plucking balls out of the air and bullying Stourbridge’s backline in the way his impressive stature suggested he should. But the real shift came with Bignot’s 72nd minute substitution, as Kingsley James made way for former York City winger Kaine Felix. His pace and movement meant Guiseley now had an exciting and fluid front four of Odejayi, Lewis Walters, Danny Murphy (Will Hatfield) and Kaine. Suddenly, Stourbridge looked totally off the pace.
The Lions of Nethermoor roared once more and claimed back-to-back wins
Two goals in quick succession followed for the Lions that sucker-punched the travelling side’s FA Cup dreams. The first came from a long ball down the pitch by goalkeeper Joe Green that Odejayi did well to pursue and steal before playing across goal to Lewis Walters who gratefully tapped into an empty net. The second, in similar fashion, only this time it was Felix whose electric pace saw him outstrip Stourbridge’s leggy centre backs, and latch onto Purver’s long ball to confirm a Guiseley win.
The Lions of Nethermoor roared once more and claimed back-to-back wins on Saturday, but special mention must go to Stourbridge’s remarkable support. As their team faltered in the second half they never stopped singing their admittedly small repertoire of songs and there was a hum of appreciation amongst the home fans. It was not enough though, and Guiseley will now look forward to their second round fixture at home to Cambridge.
Gryphon Guiseley Man of the match: Alex Purver