Lions Bounce Back To Boost Play Off Push

The Lions responded to the disappointing setback at Marine with a vital three points against a spirited Whitby side who played the second half with 10 men, writes Ivor Timmis.

With Leigh Whelan out suspended, and Reece Kendall injured, the Lions made one change, with Tom Denton coming in for Luke Marriette. With Michael Afuye out left, Kallan Murphy out right, Tom Denton in the middle with Gabriel Johnson just behind him, there was certainly attacking intent.

The first Guiseley efforts of note were a well struck Liam Tongue free kick from 30 yards which cleared the bar and a shot by Gabriel Johnson into the night sky after he had cut inside on his left foot.

At the other end, the Lions had to defend desperately in a scramble following a Whitby corner. Aaron Haswell, who was a threat throughout, sent a raking crossfield ball which put Connor Smith free in the box, but he fired over from a tight angle. This was not the only time the Seasiders looked dangerous on the break.

On 25 minutes, Murphy, as he has done so often this season, pressured a defender into a mistake and charged down his clearance, setting him free in the box, but his angled shot was deflected just wide of the far post. However, disappointment was short lived. Tongue’s inswinging corner from the left was headed on to the post by Aiden Walker and Johnson prodded home from short range with his right foot.

Five minutes later, Tongue nearly added to the tally with a superbly struck right foot volley which cannoned into a defender before being scrambled clear.

Whitby responded with another impressive crossfield ball which put Alfie Doherty free in the area, but he screwed his shot just wide of the far post.

Right on the stroke of half time, apparently out of the blue, Josef Wheatley received a red card. It turned out to be for dissent, but it left the Whitby fans, bench and team sorely aggrieved.

Whitby made a spirited start to the second half, but it was Guiseley who fashioned the first opportunity when a Murphy header almost put Denton through. Mystfyingly, Denton was given a yellow card for the mildest challenge on Whitby keeper, Shane Bland.

On 55 minutes after a quick break from a corner, Murphy almost found Johnson with a perceptive through pass.

The Seasiders were not out of it though and a quickly taken free kick found Coleley Shepherd unmarked; his crisp drive hit the post with Battersby beaten.

On 68 minutes the Lions appeared to have sealed the points: an Afuye free kick was headed clear, but only as far as Tongue, who cushioned the ball into the area with his first touch, before despatching a left foot volley into the corner.

To their credit, Whitby were not done. The Lions failed to clear a long throw and as Ollie Brown went to make a challenge, Max Howells crashed to the floor and the referee pointed to the spot. Former Lion Jacob Grattan slammed home the penalty.

It was all Whitby now and the Lions struggled to hold on in spite of bringing on Josh Ashman as an extra defender and even dropping Denton in defence too. In a nerve-jangling finale, Ollie Brown received an incredibly harsh 2nd yellow, a Whitby forward missed the ball completely from two yards out, and Battersby made a breathtaking save at point blank range inside the sox yard box. The save was celebrated like a goal, and deservedly so, as it enabled the Lions to take three points back over the North Yorkshire Moors.

Whitby Town 1-2 Guiseley | Tuesday 19th March 2024 | Turnbull Ground

Attendance: 423

Team: 1. Ollie Battersby, 2. Ollie Brown, 3. Jordi Nsaka, 4. Prince Ekpolo, 5. Aiden Walker, 6. Jameel Ible, 7. Michael Afuye (85′ Mariette), 8. Liam Tongue (C), 9. Tom Denton, 10. Gabriel Johnson and 11. Kallan Murphy (85′ Ashman).

Subs: 12. Kofi Moore, 13. Hagie Damba (GK), 14. Luke Mariette, 15. Adam Dawson and 16. Josh Ashman.

Next Up:

3:00 pm
Pre-Season Friendly

Guiseley vs Huddersfield Town