Match report from budding reporter Evan Seaman.
Familiar faces return to haunt GAFC on Boxing Day.
It might be the season of goodwill but it was an unhappy return to action for Guiseley as the Lions were heavily beaten by Bradford Park Avenue side led by GAFC’s former manager Mark Bower. In a game which featured five former GAFC players in the Park Avenue line-up, the Lions were thrashed 1-5 at Nethermoor Park in front of a Boxing Day crowd of 1,150.
BPA immediately sprinted out of the blocks as GAFC could not deal with their high pressing; this set the tone for the rest of the match. As a result the former Lions’ favourite, now captain of BPA, Oli Johnson took advantage of GAFC’s fragile defence when he took his time to compose himself on the ball before opening the scoring just 2 minutes into the match.
Things only got worse for Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill’s men as no 9 Jake Beesley got on the end of a through ball to double BPA’s lead after 19 minutes of play. Will Hatfield, number 11, tried to halve the deficit in quick fashion when he successfully won the ball before sliding it into the path of Rowan Liburd, but GAFC’s number 9 saw his attempt at goal parried by Steve Drench to let the ball go out for a corner. Despite a good delivery, no 5 Jo Cummings’ glancing header went straight into the hands of Drench (who GAFC supporters used to call “England’s number 1”).
BPA punished the Lions’ missed opportunity when Beesley bagged a second goal after going one-on-one with Joe Green at the 26th minute of play, making the scoreline 0-3 to Bower’s outfit by half-time. When Scott Smith’s attempted cross failed to travel in the right direction with about half an hour on the clock, this appeared to be a sign of more misery for the GAFC supporters. Then Hatfield’s penalty appeal was turned down by ref Dean Watson just before the break, which summed up their first half performance.
GAFC’s fortunes did not improve as they conceded a penalty 8 minutes into the second half which allowed Beesley to complete his hat-trick to make it 0-4 despite Green getting a touch on his shot from the spot kick. Connor Branson put the icing on the Christmas cake for BPA on the 57th minute as he put them 0-5 up when he put the ball in the back of the net from a corner.
Smith’s brief stint at right-back came to an abrupt end when he was brought off in the 62nd minute for Will Thornton, who ensured that the Lions’ nightmare return to their home ground did not get any worse as he used his strength on a few occasions to shield the ball. Thornton’s solid substitute performance, albeit when the game was effectively over, has left many of the Lions supporters scratching their heads as to why he didn’t start the game ahead of Smith.
There was some festive cheer for the GAFC fans as Alex Purver was able to score a consolation goal with about half an hour remaining when he managed to fire home in a congested penalty box from a corner kick. However any celebrations from the home crowd were short-lived because despite Gianluca Havern being sent off for a nasty challenge on Hatfield, the Lions were unable to take advantage of the extra man as the game finished 1-5 to BPA.
This extended their lead at the top of the table to 3 points whereas Guiseley FC have slipped to 17th – just 2 points above the drop zone, but the Lions do still have 3 games in hand.