Thursday, 22 September 2011

Guiseley 3 – 4 Halifax Town; 20/09/11.


There's no better person to quote than myself, because otherwise who would quote me? "When we start playing well for once, it's going to feel mint."

I approached Nethermoor Park as you'd walk past a sleeping Rottweilier that only eats Town fans. A local kid slipped in with us, since his ticket would cost £1 in the company of an adult. After we got through the turnstile he joined a group, one of which shouted at us "You're gonna get battered tonight!" I made a bee-line to the bar and necked a tidy half pint of a Hebden Bridge bitter in time for the players to gather on a clean, slightly warped pitch.

What I heard next shocked me: Neil Aspin's father had passed away from cancer today. The teams lined up and bowed their heads for a minute's silence and the main stand spectators rose, and although by this point I wondered if there was a rational reason for us to stay, Aspin himself was still there by the dugout, showing the astounding resilience we would soon see from the players.

A minute in, Toulson gave it away and an attempt for the right-hand-side of the goal from Guiseley's Peter Davidson trickled through the hands of Eastwood, leaving us 1–0 down. A voice in my head said "9–0 FT."

Seven minutes in and the danger in Guiseley's eyes let's us have it again, with Gavin Rothery finding some space from a header to hit it high up and in. Two goals down and I still hadn't even found a good vantage point from which to shout.

I found my father at the other corner on the ground, who declared we'd lost already and we may as well do what we can until the final whistle. But 20 minutes had elapsed and we hadn't conceded a goal in a while, so was some momentum being picked up? Yes, we had a good amount of possession but were we to let Guiseley on the attack again it'd be safe to assume they'd score, knowing our red carpet of a defense. Your inner dreads as a fan though can be hidden deeper inside you if you encourage your team vocally: "Do it for Neil Aspin!" had to be the words to go by.

Soon, the Shaymen's heads raised up like Pez dispensers. Terry Dixon was to take a free kick from 20 yards instead of the usual from cap'n Tom Baker, and the wall-beating shot was converted from the rebound by Lee Gregory. We had begun playing with some fluency again and sent an early warning to Guiseley that their perfect home streak wasn't so safe. However, the Lions couldn't help but respond towards the end of the first half, and not too long after a looping header got palmed away by Eastwood, he couldn't stop a close-range diving header that Rothery nailed, while I snuck off to see a man about a dog, trying not to think of anything at all.

No, I'm not a professional sports photographer. Well spotted.

More match visuals taken hurriedly because I accidentally deleted all of the older stuff including two goals and me patting Danny Lowe's back in my fervour.

After their second and third, the Guiseley massive felt eager enough to vaguely chant their name a couple of times, and the next peek I heard of the home team's supporters was being told that we were the strongest side to come to Nethermoor so far this season. We were just worried that Town's courage had crumbled again and that another write-off was ahead. And bloody hell, were we given an unexpected treat!

As we kicked off I heard a "Going down, going down, going down!" chant directed at us from the other side of the ground. Must be this non-league grace and spirit we're always told about that teams like bankrolled Guiseley clearly have in abundance. Defiantly, the Shaymen of the second half were world beaters (ie. Conference North beaters). Our game flowed, our players communicated, and Guiseley's nappies got fully twisted over it. It was simply better than anything from the last five games. When Holland squared the ball to Terry Dixon, whose touch went in off defender Danny Ellis, a 3–2 scoreline felt pretty OK in and of itself. Four minutes later, Baker's corner ball reached the bowing head of Terry Dixon, and the loanee himself had opened his account finally, and deservedly.

We could then do it all. Route one was a possible, as were the flanks. Our defenders picked up the stray Guiseley counters and the entire team had grown a foot in height. After ten further minutes it was Dixon again who fed in a route one ball to Gregory. Greggers, as per, took ages with the ball inside the six-yard box: was he erring, or was he dancing with the ball to deceive the frankly petrified Guiseley defense? Either way it worked, thank god, and the feeling of us getting that 4–3 win, a three-goal gain within 15 minutes still feels stunning.

So, a confounded Guiseley kicked off for the final time in the evening, and a particular brand of classiness courtesy of substitute O'Neill's elbow floored Liam Hogan, and the former was shown the red card after six farcical minutes on the pitch. The remainder of the match was still tense but seen out well, and the eighth goal of the game was on our radar more often than theirs. It's always tense, when the three points are in sight.

Neutrals at the match would've found it fantastic, and the Shaymen certainly did. This was the Shaymen we'd seen under Aspin in the previous two seasons, a group of lads who celebrate with each other when they score and always have the goal in their collective mind. If we piece more of these results together, minus the activity at the other end of the pitch, it'll be alright. For now, our current squad have showed easy game is something we ain't.

P.S. I got a programme; a rather uncommon thing for me now considering the dross I spent 17 seconds reading at Evo-Stik level. It's a good 'un! Admittedly tinpot in design (see below) but high in content and effort and ultimately worth the asking price. Props also to the first history I've read of ourselves which wasn't copied off a dormant, semi-literate page on the official website, despite it only documenting two of our 100 seasons of footie. Canny.

Guiseley 3 – 4 Halifax Town; att. 897
Entertainment: 9/10
Ground: 5/10
Pitch: 7/10

I'm a happy Town fan.


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