Lions Play Off Hopes Fading Fast

An extraordinary free kick from the halfway line and a late winner for Warrington Rylands looks to have put paid to Guiseley’s already faint play off hopes writes Dave Robertson.

Mo Touray broke through in stoppage time to fire the home side into a late lead and deny Paul Phillips’ side a point after Benni Smales Braithwaite’s 4th goal of the season had levelled matters.

After late victory last week on Merseyside, the Lions returned to the North West looking for back to back away victories for the first time since August. They suffered a midweek blow with the news that the influential Lewis Whitham was out for the season, and would also be without Ross Daly to suspension. Four players returned to the Starting line up after last week – George Smith, Jameel Ible, Mark Lees and Jake Cassidy all restored to the first eleven.

Meanwhile their opponents had signed two players in midweek – Joe Adams and Colin Oppong, who would prove a significant thorn in Guiseley’s side.

Rylands started much the brighter team, and the debutants forced two smart saves in the first ten minutes from Cam Mason. The Lions rallied somewhat and created their first chance of the game when a ball over the top was nodded down by Cassidy, into the path of an onrushing Isaac Assenso. Unfortunately, the defender could only put the ball over the top. Assenso would later pick up a booking and be subbed off after less than half an hour – Callum Chippendale coming on as the Lions reverted to back four.

Five minutes before half time, the home side made a breakthrough in an extraordinary way. Rylands won a free kick just inside their own half for a relatively innocuous challenge, and Scott Duxbury’s quickly taken long range effort from his own half caught Cam Mason on the edge of his area, the Lions keeper unable to stop the ball looping into the back of the net. It was a galling way to concede, but credit has to be given to Duxbury.

Guiseley were under pressure again early in the second half when Jordan Mustoe’s cross was poked towards goal amongst a crowd of players, and had to be cleared off the line.

The manager made an attacking change as Lees was withdrawn and Scott Bakkor put on, but the visitors still struggled to build any momentum. Joe Adams was put through again midway through the second half and forced yet another good save from Mason. Soon after Abadaki found himself one on one with the keeper but Jameel Ible recovered well to deny him, but the hosts should have put the game beyond doubt.

As the game drifted into the last twenty minutes, Guiseley created a couple of chances of their own; Bakkor just failing to get enough on a Smales-Braithwaite’s cross, and later Benni’s free kick flashing wide of the post.

Then finally a breakthrough – with eight minutes remaining, Murphy won a free kick in a dangerous position. Smales-Braithwaite curled it in beyond a crowd of players for his fourth goal in as many games, and improbably level the scores. The game then opened up as Guiseley went for the the three points they desperately needed to maintain any kind of top six charge. Rylands charged forward and it took some last ditch defending to hold out. A ball forward for the visitors was acrobatically met by Bakkor but hit wide.

The Lions pushed for a winner, but there was to be no repeat of last weeks comeback as late on Touray found himself in space on the counter, and finished calmly past Mason as the clocked ticked over 90 mins. Delight for Rylands, who won for the first time in seven games, but despair for Guiseley, whose play offs hopes look to be disappearing all too quickly over the horizon.

After the game, First Team Coach Dave Noble said the team were disappointed, and already planning for next season. “We were going for the win…and got hit on the break. The last twenty minutes I thought we were the best team… one point’s not enough for us, we needed the three to go for the play off spot”

Despite the defeat, Noble seemed to suggest not all was lost – “We go again, and we’ll keep going”

Warrington Rylands 2-1 Guiseley | Saturday 18th March 2023 | Gorsey Lane

Attendance: 418

Team: 1. Cam Mason, 2. Kwame Boateng, 3. George Smith (C), 4. Isaac Assenso (Chippendale 25’), 5. Jameel Ible, 6. Mark Lees (Bakkor 55’), 7. Benni Smales-Braithwaite, 8. Leigh Whelan, 9. Kallan Murphy, 10. Jake Cassidy and 11. Courtney Meppen-Walters. Subs: 12. Lewis Hey, 14. Scott Bakkor, 15. Alejandro Machado, 16. Callum Chippendale and 17. Lewis Gardner.

Next Up:

3:00 pm
Pre-Season Friendly

Guiseley vs Huddersfield Town