Lions start New Year on top

Guiseley’s patched up side missing several regulars through illness and suspension, showed the same fortitude as those who had ensured that this fixture went ahead despite burst pipes and flooding and were rewarded as the Lions sit top of top of the pile tonight courtesy of Joe O’Neill’s winner, and draws for Alfreton and Telford against Eastwood and Stafford respectively.

Harrogate’s young side defended in depth in an effort to stem the Lions usual flowing football and in a scrappy first half they largely succeeded as the home were restricted to one meaningful effort that saw Mark Cook make a smart save from Warren Peyton, pushing the midfielder’s goalbound effort round the post.

The second half was a much more open affair and Gary King missed a glorious chance to put the visitors ahead when he put his shot wide with only Steven Drench to beat. The usually lethal James Walshaw shot straight at Cook as the Lions forced a series of corners which came to nought.

However, Walshaw did provide the breakthrough on 68 minutes with a ball across the six yard box and although Cook got a hand to it the ball fell to Joe O’Neill who had to make room for himself, and after what seemed an eternity picked his spot between two defenders on the line.

Richard Pell put a header the wrong side of the post for the visitors and impressive debutant Simon Baldry had a header cleared off the line by Dominic Roma as the Lions sealed the points and shook off three weeks of inactivity.

Entertainment value: ***

Star man: Simon Baldry (Guiseley)

Attendance: 624

Guiseley: Drench, Baldry, McEaneaney, Peyton, Cotterill, Merris, Rothery (James 75), Sharry, O’Neill, Walshaw, Needham. Unused subs: Spivack, Holland, Martens

Harrogate Town: Cook, Wilkinson (Ellington 75), Roma, Maguire, Pell, Picton, Nowakowski (Hadley 71), Toner, Armstrong (Phillips 71), Bloomer. Unused subs: Bowey, Naylor

Goalscorer: O’Neill 68