The Lions purred to a third successive West Riding County Cup Final with a resounding win over a youthful Harrogate Railway side who, to their credit, never stopped trying to play football. Already two goals to the good, Guiseley swapped Kevin Holsgrove for James Walshaw at the break, and the big striker made an immediate impact by bagging three goals in a devastating ten-minute spell to leave Rail shell-shocked.
Having been kicking their heels for the last two weeks Guiseley fielded a near full-strength side, with Sean O’Reilly making his full debut at right back while the returning Matt Wilson started in midfield. In front of a sparse crowd of 128 hardy souls, and on a pitch that had held up well despite the late evening rain, it was the visitors who were out of the traps first, Nathan Cartman bringing a good save from Steve Drench.
As the rain eventually abated, and after a flurry of exchanges, the home side took the lead on 19 minutes courtesy of Wayne Brooksby, who cut in from the right to shoot left-footed beyond Lee Ashforth. Then Josh Wilson got on the end of Andy Holdsworth’s free kick but aimed his header straight at Ashforth.
Jon Maloney created a good opening for Patrick McGuire but the Harrogate man pulled his shot wide before Josh Wilson played a ball across to Walshaw who, unable to get his shot away, rolled the ball into the path of Wilson for the England ‘C’ striker to dink over Ashforth for the second on the stroke of half-time.
The game was effectively sealed on the resumption as Holsgrove went on the rampage down the right channel, and with everyone expecting him to pull the ball across the box he delivered a rasping shot to beat Ashcroft at his near post. He then followed it up with a simple tap-in from Wilson’s cross after Dan Thirkell had been dispossessed on the edge of the area, and sealed his hat-trick by converting a Brooksby cross on 56 minutes.
Former Lion Colin Hunter forced Drench to tip his effort over late on but the gulf between the two sides was epitomised by the fact that Guiseley played with ten men for the last twenty-five minutes. Danny Ellis went off injured and Guiseley’s having already used all three subs was not replaced, but it hardly registered.
The Lions now await the winners of the other semi-final between next Tuesday’s visitors to Nethermoor FC Halifax Town, and Ossett Town.
1 – Steve Drench
2 – Sean O’Reilly
3 – Rhys Meynell
4 – Jack Rea
5 – Danny Ellis
6 – Andy Pearson
7 – Wayne Brooksby 19 (McWilliams, 61)
8 – Matt Wilson (Bower, 61)
9 – Josh Wilson 44
10 – James Walshaw (Holsgrove, 46)
11 – Andy Holdsworth (Captain)
12 – Kevin Holsgrove 46, 54, 56
14 – Andy McWilliams
15 – Mark Bower
16 – Zack Dale
18 – Jacob Giles