Guisborough Town 2, Ryhope CW 2 (Northern League Division One)

AN absolutely superb goalkeeping display by the Guisborough Town ‘keeper, Jordan Nixon, earned a vital point for the Priorymen against Ryhope CW at the KGV Stadium on Saturday. Nixon - rapidly earning a reputation for himself as one of the best keepers in the Northern League – pulled off a string of six or seven stunning saves to keep Guisborough in the game.

Guisborough got off to a great start when striker David Onions, making a welcome return after injury, scored a superb goal after just seven minutes, hitting a terrific shot from 20 yards which curled beyond the reach of the Ryhope keeper and into the far corner. It was the perfect start for hard-pressed Guisborough but, as has happened so often throughout this season, Onions had to hobble off the pitch in frustration after being hurt in a 50-50 collision with Ryhope keeper Ball.

As the first half progressed Ryhope came more into it and they equalised on 23 minutes when, despite a great double save by Nixon, the loose ball was floated across goal to Home-Jackson at the far post and he headed home easily. In the fourth minute of time added on Guisborough grabbed a equaliser when young sub, Tom Bligh, put over a super cross and defender Matty Lovatt headed home to earn his side a draw.

It was only more inspired saves from Nixon that kept the scoreline level at 1-1 at half-time. After the interval, Nixon continued his heroics in goal to keep efforts from Chapman and Home-Jackson out but in the 70th minute Ryhope took the lead when Paxton fired home. Undeterred Guisborough continued to press forward and in the fourth minute of stoppage time, they conjured up an equaliser when substitute Tom Bligh, making a welcome return after several weeks side-lined with injury, put over a superb cross and Matty Lovatt headed home to the delight of the Guisborough faithful. Not surprisingly, Manager Forster selected Nixon as his Man of the Match.

Afterwards Guisborough Manager Gary Forster commented, “It was good to get a point in the end but it’s very frustrating for us when we lost two key players, Dave Onions and Gary Wood, through injury before half-time. It’s a bit of a nightmare for us with all the injuries we keep getting – I don’t think we’ve managed to put the same side out twice since I became manager because of all the injuries we’ve suffered.

“It was good to get a point and stop the run of recent defeats and it was good to see the spirit and character that we’ve got but unfortunately I thought some of our defending was poor again today and we need to get that sorted out. We shouldn’t be conceding the two goals that we did like that.”

He paid special tribute to Dave Onions, lamenting the fact that the big frontman had to leave the pitch injured after scoring such a great goal, said, “But for his injury he would have probably gone on to score a hat-trick because he seemed to have the measure of their two centre backs so to lose him again was a big blow to us. He could be out for seven to 10 days.”

The hard-earned point might not be enough to avoid the drop but it keeps alive Guisborough’s faint hopes of Division 1 survival. The Priorymen are still 10 points off safety behind Washington but need to show the same spirit and determination to be in with a chance.