Stockton Town 2, Guisborough Town 0 (Northern League – Division One)

A TRULY valiant effort from the Priorymen pushed runaway league leaders and Teesside derby rivals Stockton Town all the way on Saturday, but two late goals in either half finally dashed Guisborough’s hope of getting something out of the match.

Stockton – nicknamed ‘The Anchors’ – have only lost one league game all season and this latest victory over Guisborough put them a massive 18 points clear at the top, while Guisborough slipped a place to seventh.

After a fairly evenly-fought first half, Guisborough went a goal behind on 41 minutes when Stockton striker Kevin Hayes jinked along the 18 yard box and curled a cracking shot into the top corner of the Guisborough net for 1-0 to the home side. In the second half the Priorymen put in a magnificent effort in search of an equaliser but fine efforts from Sonni Coleman, Steve Roberts and Mason McNeill just failed to find the target.

Then, as often happens when one side like Guisborough are pressing incessantly for an equaliser, the other team goes and scores. And unfortunately for the Priorymen that’s exactly what happened when former Guisborough player and now veteran Tom Portas sprinted from the half-way line to slip the ball past the onrushing Guisborough ‘keeper Catterick into the corner of the net for an unassailable 2-0 lead for the Anchors.

Guisborough Town Manager Gary Forster was full of praise for his team after the 2-0 defeat.

“I thought overall that we were the better side on the whole, but Stockton just edged it in the end, particularly in the first half,” he said.

“But we pushed them to the limit in the second half during which we were camped out in their half but finally succumbed to a very late Stockton clincher.

“Overall, I have to be pleased with the performance, although we were a little sloppy in the final third and that is something we have to address. We need to start winning ‘ugly’ again.”

“There were some great individual performances from the likes of Tommy Marron, Josh Rowbotham, Dylan McAvoy and Mark Robinson, along with our goalkeeper Ryan Catterick. They were all excellent along with our young starlets Charlie Marshall and Harry Thompson in midfield. But my Man of the Match was Mason McNeill.

“In the second half in particular he caused Stockton no end of problems and helped his full back out on numerous occasions.”

Tomorrow Guisborough travel to Sunderland to play Ryhope CW, kick-off 3pm.