Guiseley were made to settle for a point on a difficult surface, after Prince Ekpolo’s first half goal was cancelled out by an Al Byrne penalty mid-way through the second, writes Simon Bullock.
The Lions got off to a strong start inside seven minutes when a free kick on the edge of the penalty area was knocked down by Kallan Murphy and Prince Ekpolo found himself in the right place to tap in from a couple of yards and put Guiseley ahead with the first chance of the game.
United then grew into the game after a slow start and fashioned a good opportunity when James Hardy sent a teasing ball across the face of the goal which was well dealt with by Jameel Ible who managed to divert it behind at the back post.
Soon after, Michael Afuye was set away down the right and drove into the penalty area before cutting inside onto his left foot, firing a low shot onto the post of Paul Cooper’s goal.
Andy Welsh’s side continued to apply pressure and on 30 minutes Murphy was brought down by Mitch Rose in the area to earn Guiseley a penalty and the opportunity to double the lead. However, Reece Kendall’s spot-kick was well saved by Cooper down low to his left-hand side to keep the score at 1-0.
United responded well and deep into additional time at the end of the half nearly drew level when a goalmouth scramble led to Guiseley blocking numerous attempts on goal from the hosts, eventually ending with Ollie Battersby making a superb double-save first to deny Al Byrne and then Sean Newton in quick succession.
Ten minutes into the second half the Lions nearly grabbed a second when Afuye’s low cross into the penalty area was nearly met by the outstretched leg of Murphy, but the Irishman was unable to make contact with the ball and it rolled agonisingly out for a goal kick.
That chance proved to be Guiseley’s last of the game as the Robins turned up the pressure in their hunt for an equaliser and got it on 69 minutes when Brad Abbott was clumsily fouled inside the 18-yard box and the referee awarded United a penalty. Byrne stepped up to send Battersby the wrong way and make the score 1-1.
There was little meaningful action in the last 20 minutes plus stoppages, with substitutions and players receiving treatment for injuries for both sides stopping either team from building any kind of momentum in the final stages.
A draw was a fair result on the balance of play, however there is no doubt Guiseley will be left wondering whether the result may have differed had Kendall converted his penalty at 1-0.
Ashton United 1-1 Guiseley | Saturday 9th February 2024 | Hurst Cross
Team: 1. Ollie Battersby, 2. Ollie Brown, 3. Reece Kendall, 4. Leigh Whelan, 5. Aiden Walker, 6. Jameel Ible, 7. Michael Afuye, (Dawson 90’) 8. Prince Ekpolo, 9. Kallan Murphy, 10. Luke Mariette (Denton 90’), 11. Kofi Moore (Johnson 78’).
Subs: 12. Liam Tongue, 14. Adam Dawson, 15. Tom Denton, 16. Gabriel Johnson, 17. Josh Ashman.