Playing their sixth game in thirteen days, the Lions showed their class against an Altrincham team chasing a play-off place in what turned out to be a feisty encounter with several bookings, one sending off, two goals and a last-gasp penalty save to add to some very contentious refereeing decisions.
The visitors from Cheshire started strongly, James Lawrie flashing a shot just across Steve Drench’s goal and Simon Richman bringing a superb tip over from the home custodian before Lawrie hit the base of the post. Having absorbed the early onslaught, Guiseley began to play their trademark passing game and soon had the visitors’ defence on the back foot, a strategy that paid dividends on 32 minutes when Josh Wilson, despite being fouled, maintained his momentum to cut in from the right and shoot under Stuart Coburn for the opener.
The visitors lost the influential Duncan Watmore to injury just before the interval and he was replaced by Ryan Brooke. In the second half, the simmering tension that had been building throughout the game boiled over with fifteen minutes remaining when Jack Rea and Patrick Lacey became entangled and players from both sides went in for a bout of pushing and shoving. After it subsided, referee Martin Coy singled out Kevin Holsgrove for a straight red while Alty centre back Gianluca Havern was deemed only worthy of a yellow card, much to the disbelief of the home supporters.
Having lost the muscle up front, Steve Kittrick brought on James Walshaw for Gavin Rothery and off we went again, with Brooke lucky to be shown only a yellow for a scything tackle on Seb Carole. The visitors, however, failed to make the most of their numerical advantage, although they did score on 78 minutes following a corner that was cleared to Jake Moult, who rifled a shot in at the far post.
Even with that setback, the Lions looked the more likely to grab all three points, Danny Ellis hitting a rasping drive just the wrong side of the upright from twenty yards out. But it was all so nearly undone courtesy of another questionable decision. Drench saved at the feet of Damian Reeves, and in the process of trying to recover his position saw another Altrincham player go down in a heap over his outstretched arms and Mr Coy pointing to the penalty spot. Drench, however, got to his feet to save Lacey’s attempt (and two follow-ups) with ease and ensure a share of the points, edging the Lions towards securing second place but leaving Alty still searching for valuable points to secure their play-off spot.
1 – Steve Drench
2 – Andy Holdsworth (Captain)
3 – Rhys Meynell
4 – Jack Rea
5 – Danny Ellis
6 – Matt Wilson
7 – Gavin Rothery (Walshaw, 75)
8 – Aaron Hardy
9 – Josh Wilson (Goal, 32) (McWilliams, 80)
10 – Seb Carole
11 – Kevin Holsgrove (Sent Off, 75)
12 – Patrick Mullen
14 – Andy McWilliams
15 – Mark Bower
16 – James Walshaw
18 – Jacob Giles