Guisborough Town 1 Marske United 2
The most important and eagerly anticipated East Cleveland derby in many years was won by Marske who, for the second game running, came from behind to claim maximum points and in the process closed the gap on their rivals to 2 points. The home side named an unchanged starting eleven from the side that had come back superbly from 2-0 the previous Saturday to beat Durham City 4-2. There was a place on the bench, however, for Damien Stevens on his return from a 56 day ban. Marske made just the one change from the team that sensationally also came from 2-0 down to beat title rivals West Auckland 4-2, playing for over an hour with 10 men. Into the team came Glen Butterworth, who had been a huge influence when coming on as a substitute against West. Reece Kelly was the unlucky player left out, having to make do with a place on the bench.
The game started with Marske having the first corner of the game following some indecisive defending from the home side. From the corner, Adam Wheatley appeared to be pushed in the back but referee Newhouse immediately signalled no foul. Within a minute Marske were behind when a long ball forward saw ex-Marske player Danny Earl challenge Wheatley; Earl was clearly looking at the man and not the ball and impeded Wheatley but the referee was having none of it and Wheatley only managed to clear the ball to Luke Bythway, 25 yards out, who held off a challenge from Butterworth and curled a sublime shot into the top corner, giving Robert Dean in the Marske goal no chance. The referee was upsetting the Marske players and fans in the opening exchanges when no free kick was awarded for a foul on Butterworth but when Austin Johnston and James Risbrough jumped for the ball it was Johnston who was penalised. On 19 minutes, Wheatley became the first player to be booked, and rightly, for a poor challenge on Risbrough 20 yards from goal. Curtis Round took the free kick but it sailed high over the bar. Just three minutes later, Johnston also entered the referee’s notebook for a foul on Round, though it appeared that the ex-Guisborough man got a touch on the ball when making the tackle. Marske’s first shot didn’t arrive until the 26th minute when good interplay between Butterworth, Gott and Owens ended with a shot from Johnston that went well wide. Two minutes later, Danny Brunskill showed his customary skill to control the ball and turn towards goal but Callum Martin did superbly to block the striker’s shot. The ball dropped to Butterworth but his shot hit the back of Jamie Owens. Earl became the first Guisborough player to be booked on 29 minutes for a petulant flick out at Wheatley. As the game passed the half hour mark, a shot from Liam McPhillips went wide after the referee played a good advantage after Bythway was fouled before a cross from Martin went just over Dean’s bar. Just as it appeared that Marske would head into the break a goal down, they equalised with the clock showing 45 minutes. Liam O’Sullivan played the ball out wide to Butterworth who played a square ball to Craig Gott 30 yards from goal. In turn, the Marske skipper played the ball into the box where Owens managed to flick the ball into the path of the advancing Butterworth who controlled the ball and stepped past Martin before firing a shot into the top corner past Nick Liversedge.
Half Time: Guisborough 1 Marske 1
The opening chance of the second half fell to Marske goalscorer Butterworth but this time the Marske man was unable to hit the target after being superbly set up by Brunskill. Gott was then very fortunate not to enter the referee’s notebook for a foul on the breaking Bythway. The referee played a good advantage but then appeared to forget to book Gott when play eventually stopped. On 53 minutes, Martin was penalised for a foul on Owens and from the ensuing free kick Darren Hollingsworth headed the ball back across goal to Wheatley who saw his looping header hit the top of the bar with Liversedge stranded. A minute later Johnston was penalised for a foul on Chay Liddle who appeared to make the most of the challenge. The referee awarded the free kick but no further action was taken against Johnston. Marske came close to taking the lead on 56 minutes when Gott chased down a loose ball on the left and with Liversedge back peddling once Gott got the ball under control the skipper’s attempted chip sailed over the home keeper but just went the wrong side of the net from a Marske point of view. Two minutes later the home side missed a golden chance to re-take the lead when Tom Bott hesitated which allowed Earl to cross from the left but Bythway missed the target from just 6 yards out. The game then saw a substitution from each side with Sam Garvie replacing Josh Macdonald for Marske and Adam Gell replacing Round for the home side. On 67 minutes, Owens appeared to be taken down in the box by ex-Marske player Leon Carling but the referee awarded play on. A minute later a cross from Gott from the right was met by the head of O’Sullivan but the full back was unable to get any power on his header and Liversedge saved with ease. With 17 minutes left on the clock it was Marske that grabbed what proved to be the decisive goal. The goal came from the sheer perseverance of top scorer Owens who battled his way past two Guisborough players before seeing his shot from just inside the box saved by the feet of Liversedge. The loose ball fell to Owens but this time Dan McWilliams did well to block the shot; however, the ball fell again to Owens and this time he wasn’t to be denied slotting home from 3 yards out to send the Marske fans into ecstasy. Guisborough reacted by making a double change with Risbrough and Earl replaced by Nathan Mulligan and Stevens. Marske reacted with a change of their own with Brunskill replaced by Kelly which allowed Marske to move to 4-5-1 formation with Kelly and Garvie supporting Owens when Marske attacked. With 4 minutes remaining, Guisborough missed a golden chance to draw level when Mulligan combined with Stevens but the ex-Chester le Street man saw his shot from close range hit the post and Marske cleared the danger. On 90 minutes Gott was booked for dissent for disputing a decision to award the home side a corner when it appeared that the last touch was off a Guisborough player. In the first minute of injury time Marske made their final change with match winner Owens replaced by Jonathan Wright. Moments later a poor clearing header from Wheatley dropped to Bythway who saw his shot on the half volley from the edge of the box go just over the bar. That was to be Guisborough’s last chance as Marske dominated the last two minutes of injury time. First, a lung bursting run from Johnston saw him out-pace substitute Gell and into the box but his pull back just evaded Garvie. In the fourth minute of injury time Wright burst in-between two Guisborough players but Liversedge did superbly to get the slightest of touches on his shot and the ball went out for a corner which Marske played short to see out the remainder of the game.
Full Time: Guisborough 1 Marske 2
Guisborough: Liversedge, Martin, McWilliams, Carling, May, Liddle, McPhillips, Risbrough (Mulligan), Bythway, Earl (Stevens), Round (Gell)
Subs (not used): Bath, Dixon
Marske: Dean, Bott, O’Sullivan, Johnston, Hollingsworth, Wheatley, Macdonald (Garvie), Gott, Brunskill (Kelly), Owens (Wright), Butterworth
Subs (not used): Myers, Hood
This was a fantastic comeback for the second game in a row from Marske who battled their way to 6 points against the top 2 in the league to maintain their title challenge. Marske are now 2 points behind Guisborough with a game in hand with Guisborough at home to Dunston on Saturday 11th before travelling to Morpeth the following Saturday. Marske have a tough looking trip to Consett, who knocked them out of the FA Vase earlier in the season, and have scored the most home goals of any team in the division, before successive home games against Bishop Auckland and Celtic Nation on April 18th and 21st. North Shields and Shildon both have games in hand on the top 2 and both can overtake Guisborough and Marske if they win their games in hand. For Marske, the task is simple – win their remaining 3 games and set the target of 90 points to see if either North Shields or Shildon can surpass it.