AFTER a triple whammy of play-off heartache and cruel finales to their last three seasons, Guiseley are entitled to believe they are due a change of luck.
It remains to be seen if it’s a case of fourth time lucky, but there was certainly nothing fortuitous about Mark Bower’s side’s impressive victory last night – thanks to a goal in each half, courtesy of the front pairing of Adam Boyes and Oli Johnson.
The pair harassed the Ferriby defence for most of the evening, with Johnson, often used in a cameo role after linking up with the Nethermoor men, in particular displaying the qualities which persuaded Norwich City to take a punt on him earlier in his career.
Johnson fired in a fine second four minutes after the break to hand Guiseley a deserved two-goal buffer heading into the second leg at the Eon Visual Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
It came after Boyes netted the hosts’ opener on 37 minutes, slotting home his 13th goal in his last 11 appearances.
The Lions suffered a pre-match blow with regular goalkeeper and player of the year Steve Drench missing out through illness with Steve Dickinson stepping in for just his third appearance of the calendar year.
Dickinson suffered a scare inside the first minute when Ryan Kendall’s cross-shot just evaded Danny Emerton, flashing narrowly wide.
The same visiting player then heaved a sigh of relief after his challenge in the box on Wayne Brooksby wasn’t penalised and the hosts went close to scoring, only for Johnson’s fierce, low shot to be blocked by Adam Nicklin on 16 minutes.
Just under 10 minutes later, the Lions spurned a gift-wrapped chance when Danny Boshell sent Boyes clear with Nicklin, only for the striker to fire wide when clear through.
Tony Gray’s meaty header then flew across goal in a rare salvo from Ferriby before Boyes atoned for his poor miss eight minutes before the break with the opener.
Boshell hooked the ball forward with Johnson flicking the ball on, allowing Boyes to keep his cool and steer the ball home.
Beaten twice already by Guiseley, Ferriby enjoyed their best spell ahead of the interval with Dickinson racing out to deny Liam King before Josh Wilde’s deep cross clipped the top of the bar with the keeper beaten.
Moments before half-time, Russell Fry fired over following an Emerton corner and on the restart, the visitors kept up the momentum with top-scorer Nathan Jarman’s low free-kick grasped in the nick of time by Dickinson.
It proved a key moment with the lively Johnson adding a composed second for the hosts soon after on the break.
He was afforded space on the left and homed towards goal before firing clinically past Nicklin.
Boyes was a whisker away from netting a killer third, to possibly put the tie to bed, on the hour after more top-notch link-up play with Johnson next to threaten with his shot parried by Nicklin.
Try as they might, Ferriby couldn’t find a way through and have it all to do in the second leg.
Guiseley: Dickinson; Holdsworth, Ellis, Hall, Parker; Brooksby, Boshell, Lawlor, Rothery; Boyes (Holsgrove 86), O Johnson (Potts 76). Unused substitutes: Meynell, Williams, Crossley.
North Ferriby United: Nicklin; Robson, Gray, M Wilson, Wilde; Emerton, Fry, King, Clarke (Lisles 71); Kendall (A Wilson 60), Jarman. Unused substitutes: Anderson, Peat, Pecora.
Referee: I Hussin.
* A late penalty from Lee Gregory was enough to give FC Halifax Town a 1-0 win over Cambridge United in the first leg of their Skrill Premier play-off semi-final.
The second leg is at the Abbey Stadium on Sunday afternoon.