Hebburn upset the odds at the KGV tonight with a 4-2 victory over 6th place Guisborough; in a game that went ahead at the 3rd time of asking.
The two previous times this game was scheduled, the weather got the better of it, and tonight looked like history repeating itself, after severe weather warnings were issued and heavy rain fell during the day.
Several hours sat looking at Ray Simpson's updates on NonLeagueZone started to get me rather nervous, seeing Northallerton, Bedlington and Norton to name a few falling victim to the weather. At 6:15, I presumed it was game on and set off on the road to Guisborough, stopping off at Tesco on the way to get an Easter Egg and to pick up my friend Alex for the nights entertainment.
This was to be my 4th visit to see Guisborough Town play this season, and there is good reason for that. Not only is it my local team, and I see a Guisborough Town fanatic nearly everyday of the week, it is also a lovely place to go and watch football. It is a small, enclosed ground which has the lovely backdrop of the Cleveland Hills. Everyone at the ground makes you feel welcome, from the man on the turnstiles, to the boy selling raffle tickets. The tea ladies and the man in the fluorescent jacket who I spoke to at the end of the game after I had retrieved one of the Match balls. It really is a great place to visit and a fantastic club to have in the local area.
After paying my £4 to get in, and the pound for the programme, I headed over to the Tea Hut, voted best in the league two seasons running, and purchased a cup of tea to see me through until kick off, and then made my way over to the covered standing area to take in the 1st half's action.
At kick off, a quick headcount finished with me having fingers remaining-only 8 people in the ground. After the whistle was blown however, the crowd did increase in size slightly. It did not take long for the scoreboard to get ticking, as just a few minutes in, Hebburn scored on their 1st attack. A long ball from the back saw the Hebburn man clean through, and slotted neatly home. There was a case for offside perhaps, but not one player complained. This was to be Hebburn's best chance for a while, as Guisborough seemed to apply the pressure. They kept driving forwards, though silly mistakes gave possession back to the opposition, but even they could not do much with the ball. The pitch didn't help much, as the bobbling ball deceived some players, though considering the weather that we've had, no one can complain. We got a game of footy in didn't we?
Guisborough continued to press, with Mike Roberts pushing forwards down the right. Hebburn's keeper was called into action several times, and recovered well after one of his poor clearances feel straight to the feet of the Guisborough man, who forced the goalie into a good save.
However, it wasn't long before Guisborough did break through. Some intricate passing play saw a ball knocked across the box from the right. A well placed shot could only be parried by the keeper, and David Onions was on hand to tap in the rebound.
Guisborough continued to push, another header struck the bar off a corner, and the keeper was yet again called in to make a good save. There was a brief handbags at dawn moment, though the referee intervened and gave both players a ticking off. I got the impression that he did not like getting the cards out of his pocket during the game...
As half time approached, the lure of the tea hut had catastrophic consequences. As I was waiting to order my Tea and Chips, David Onions scored to make it 2-1, and then Hebburn came up the other end to make it 2-2 going into the half time break. That, I believe, is one major weakness of the club. The food is that good and is fantastic value-for-money, that it is hard to resist going! Another disappointing thing was the young children that came to sit next to me, all dolled up in their tracksuits and black trainers and socks rolled over their trousers. One lad didn't seem to know there was a game of football going on, and another obviously had excess saliva in his mouth, as he constantly felt the need to spit.
It wasn't long before we moved positions, and also heard our quote of the night. A man known on Non League Forums as Nonleaguenutter, came out with a classic. "A lino who has a sense of humour!" Maybe offensive to some assistant referees out there, but good to see such a friendly atmosphere by all concerned.
Hebburn's 3rd came of a defensive lapse. A weak effort trickled along the six yard line. The two complacent Guisborough defenders sauntered towards the ball, only to see them beaten to it by the Hebburn striker steaming in, and making it 3-2.
Despite this setback, Guisborough continued. A goal was rightly ruled out due to offside. With not long to go however, the nail was hammered into the coffin, as a goalmouth scramble saw Hebburn net their 4th, and take all 3 points back home with them.
A shock result it was, though the game could have gone either way. In context, a draw probably would have been fair, but give Hebburn the credit they deserve, they battled on and took their chances well. Guisborough had two late chances at the end. A turn and shot from 6 yards which should have been finished, if it wasn't for a well positioned keeper, and then a free header which was met too early and went over.
A cold night in East Cleveland came to an end, with the away side coming away the happier party, and a dent in Guisborough's promotion hopes. It could be between Stokesley, Marske, RCA and Jarrow now. Only time will tell...
I apologise for the lack of reports over the winter. Obviously, a lot of games were lost due to the weather, and work commitments got the better of me. I hope to get to 4 games by the end of Easter Monday, so should hope to start getting some more action in to report about.