Guiseley shattered by clinical FC Halifax Town

Halifax's Lee Gregory runs to the fans celebrating his goal. PIC: Mike Gregory
Halifax's Lee Gregory runs to the fans celebrating his goal. PIC: Mike Gregory
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Guiseley suffered a second successive heartache in the Blue Square North play-offs semi-finals on Saturday as a 2-0 away victory gave FC Halifax Town a 3-1 success on aggregate.

The Lions could consider themselves slightly fortunate to still be in the tie after being second best for large parts of Tuesday night’s first leg at The Shay.

But they came unstuck on Saturday against a side who showed no sign of fatigue despite their punishing fixture schedule in recent weeks. While Guiseley made a positive start, they were made to cling on at times to ensure the score remained goalless.

Aaron Hardy and Matt Wilson both cleared efforts off the line and the likes of Dan Gardner and Alex Johnson both caused problems for the home defence.

The home side also threatwith Gavin Rothery going close with a shot while Josh Wilson was almost set free before he was hauled down by Liam Hogan, only to be punished with a yellow card.

But five minutes into the second periodand Guiseley were a goal down.

A long clearance down the left found Matty Pearson who squared well for Gardner to apply a cool finish and put the Shaymen a goal to the good.

While the Lions set about restoring parity, the gulf in desire between the two sides was evident and the visitors were 2-0 up before long, Lee Gregory turning and shooting past Steven Drench to put the tie out of reach.

James Walshaw could and should have grabbed a goal back but missed an open net, wrapping up a poor end to what has been, in terms of results and points in the league, an impressive season for Steve Kittrick’s men.

Kittrick said: “In the second half I think there were more Halifax players wanted it than Guiseley players and that became quite apparent.

“The minimum you have to do to win football games is put in a shift and there are one or two in there who haven’t done that.

“All I can do is apologise to the supporters.

“I think for effort Halifax probably deserved it, everyone of them would die for each other and put a foot in where one or two of ours were just feeling sorry for themselves.

“I’ve said to them that they need to look at themselves and see if they put a shift in.”

It is the third successive season that Guiseley have suffered play-off heartache with Kittrick’s men beaten semi-finalists last season and beaten finalists the year before that.

Halifax will now bid to seal promotion in the play-off final which at Brackley Town next Sunday.

Brackley overturned a deficit of a 2-1 loss in the semi-final first leg against Altrincham with a 3-0 victory on Saturday.

A gracious Halifax boss Neil Aspin said after Saturday’s victory: “I don’t gloat when I get victories and I feel for Guiseley because they’ve had an exceptional season with the points they’ve got.

“But unfortunately, when you get to the play-offs, it just comes down to the play-off games.

“I would have to say that over the two games we deserved to win and I want the players to take full credit because they’ve done the job.

“We’ve got to the final, and that’s an improvement on last year – we need to keep improving and that’s what we’ve done.”

Luke Parkin.

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