Guiseley 1 Fleetwood Town 2: FA Cup dream over for Lions

Guiseley's Paul Clayton with a missed chance.
Guiseley's Paul Clayton with a missed chance.
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IT WASN’T quite a disappointment worthy of Jim Bowen’s 
famous catchphrase from the Eighties TV show Bullseye.

“Let’s have a look at what you could have won,” the comedian would say to an unfortunate contestant who had just missed out on the big prize, invariably a speedboat or brand new Mini Metro.

A tie at home to AFC Wimbledon is not the bounty Guiseley or Fleetwood Town had dreamed of landing in the third round draw, which took place 20 or so minutes before kick-off last night at Nethermoor Park.

That much was clear when the news was relayed to the 2,324 crowd via the big screen erected behind one goal, the sight of former England midfielder Paul Ince drawing out the Londoners eliciting only groans from both sets of supporters.

So, for the Lions to miss out on a January 5 meeting with FC Halifax Town’s second-round conquerors was not the crushing blow it could have been if, say, last night’s winner had been paired with a Premier League giant or neighbours Leeds United.

Either scenario would surely have been tough to bear, especially for a club only appearing at this stage of the world’s oldest knockout competition for the second time in their history.

Nevertheless, there was still a tangible air of disappointment as the final whistle blew to signal Guiseley’s Cup dream was over.

With good cause, too, as the National League North outfit had performed admirably in front of a live audience watching on BT Sport.

On another night, the Lions and not the League One side could easily have progressed to the next stage after making a mockery of the 76 places that separate the two sides in the football pyramid.

This was particularly the case during a first half that saw the hosts, managed jointly by Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill, pose most of the attacking threat only to be undone by two calamitous errors at the back.

Kaine Felix played a big part in those periods of dominance with some searching runs down the right flank, while Alex Purver and Kingsley James were towers of strength in the middle.

Rowan Liburd’s physical presence also caused plenty of discomfort for a visiting defence who had to get through plenty of work in the opening 25 minutes.

All that was missing was 
the breakthrough that the 
Lions’ enterprising play had deserved.

Alex Cairns, the former Leeds United goalkeeper, played a key part in that by displaying great reflexes to turn away a James snapshot.

He followed that with another decent stop from Liburd, while Purver was unfortunate to see his shot from the edge of the area deflected narrowly wide.

Had one of these opportunities gone in then the night could have panned out very differently.

As it was, Fleetwood ruthlessly punished two mistakes inside four minutes to ultimately settle the tie.

First, Will Thornton’s fresh air clearance from a Conor McAleny cross on 28 minutes presented Paddy Madden with a chance he gratefully snaffled up.

If that was a bad error then what followed for Fleetwood’s second was even worse with Jo Cummings’s under-hit back pass putting Joe Green in all sorts of trouble.

Wes Burns, alive to the danger straight away, quickly closed down the Lions’ goalkeeper who could only fire against the midfielder and the ball looped into the net.

Guiseley needed a response and it came within 84 seconds. Again, a poor back pass sold a goalkeeper short with Ashley Eastham rolling the ball so slowly to Cairns he had to rush from his goal.

As a result, his clearance was poor and straight to Purver, who finished with aplomb from 30 yards into an unguarded net.

The hope among the partisan crowd at the interval was that Purver’s strike would be just the fillip the hosts needed.

But it was Fleetwood who came closest to finding the fourth goal of the night after the restart when Madden fired against the crossbar following a mistake by Thornton.

There was a late scare for the visitors when substitute Paul Clayton had an effort smothered by Cairns but it will be Leamington at home on the first Saturday of the New Year for Guiseley as Wimbledon head to the seaside in the Cup.

Guiseley: Green; Moyo, Thornton, Cummings; Halls (Clayton 82), Hatfield (Walters 73), James, Purver, Heaton; Felix (Walsh 73), Liburd. Unused substitutes: Worsnop, Smith, Harvey, Morrison.

Fleetwood Town: Cairns; Coyle, Morgan, Eastham, Husband; Burns (Biggins 90), Marney, Wallace, McAleny (Hunter 73); Evans, Madden (Bolger 87). Unused substitutes: Jones, Holt, Wallace, Garner.

Referee: J Busby (Oxfordshire).