Final Day Drama As Moors Finish With A Draw
29.04.2017 // 12:15pm
Mid-table, season effectively over and simply playing for pride in the final game. It's a slightly odd position to be in.
That slightly odd position is made odder knowing that the final day result could have implications for potentially six other sides who are all battling against the drop. Guiseley were right in the midst of things and were surely not going to lie down and let our boys walk away victorious.
McDonald made changes to the team. Afolayan, Sammons and White dropped from the 18 with Andy Brown and Nortei Nortey joining the starting XI, Pearson Mwanyongo rejoining the squad after his loan spell at Barwell and Tyrese Shade on the bench alongside fellow youth-teamers Callum Coyle and Josh Endall. Darren Acton must have felt like a grandparent!
It was evident Guiseley were nervy from the off unhelped by Liam McDonald's side deciding they were up for gaining a final day victory, Sterling-James having an early free-kick bounce off the wall.
Sterling-James and fellow winger Regan Charles-Cook were a nightmare for Eastleigh and their slight of foot and bundles of energy were too much for the Guiseley backline, Ash Palmer desperately lunging in on the latter and conceding a penalty. Fortunately for him Dan Atkinson was equal to a tame effort at a lovely height for a keeper diving the right way.
Not that it affected the Charlton Athletic loanee who was fouled 25 yards from goal. Up stepped Omari Sterling-James and the free-kick was sumptuous, curled into the top corner leaving Atkinson hopelessly diving to his right. Beautiful.
Guiseley were still in the game at 1-0 and in the second half Jake Cassidy turned and shot only for Baxter to be equal to that effort.
It was the Moors who remained the better side, however, with Charles-Cook crossing for Sterling-James who close range shot was cleared off the line. Jack Byrne's free-kick was missed by Atkinson but Kettle could not react in time to prod home and Sterling-James cut inside from his wing but the effort fizzed wide.
All of a sudden the Nethermoor Park outfit seemed to recall that they were scrapping for their lives and needed a goal in light of York City's equaliser against Forest Green Rovers.
Jake Lawlor's header from a corner was saved well by Nathan Baxter and Simon Walton, a Football League veteran, had a free-kick again saved by the inspired Moors keeper at the near post.
Callum Coyle, Pearson Mwanyongo and Tyrese Shade were introduced to the action in place of Regan Charles-Cook, Nortei Nortey and Omari Sterling-James as Moors looked to close proceedings down and give a few bodies some deserved game time.
Having witnessed Baxter again save, this time from substitute Adam Boyes, Tyrese Shade almost scored the kind of goal a teenager dreams of. He cut inside from the left and the bobble of the ball fell perfectly when the winger struck from 25 yards only for Dan Atkinson to acrobatically tip the ball onto the bar before claiming the ball as Callum Coyle charged in for the rebound. A fingertip from a sensational first goal and Guiseley's relegation.
Lady Luck instead shone brightly on the hosts with one last long ball punted into the area. Nathan Baxter charged out of his goal, Danny Lowe and Kristian Green rose high and it was Moors defender who beat everybody to the ball. To his dismay, it looped the other two and ended up in the back of the net.
Congratulations to Guiseley who survived as a result of that late equaliser. Congratulations to Lincoln City who will play in League Two next term. Commiserations to Braintree Town, Southport, North Ferriby United and York City who will play regional football next term and good luck to Tranmere Rovers, Dagenham and Redbridge, Forest Green Rovers and Aldershot Town who will fight it out in the play-offs. FYI, my money is on Tranmere.
As for the Moors, the final day draw meant little in the grand scheme of things. It was great to see the players fighting hard right until the end and performing brightly in the final game of the campaign losing out to a fairly unfortunate last minute own goal.
After promotion last season we were installed as second favourites for relegation above North Ferriby United. The aim was to survive or at the very least give it absolutely everything in the fight for relegation. If we fall, we fall with pride. The players, managers, board and supporters have outdone themselves and everybody has played their part in achieving the improbable.
We will spend the next couple of weeks posting our thoughts on the season as a whole and look forward to seeing you all at the awards ceremony. Otherwise, see you all at the start of the National League 2017/18 campaign!