Guiseley spurred on by last year’s play-off final heartache

Andy Holdsworth
Andy Holdsworth
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ANDY HOLDSWORTH admits that the pain of Guiseley’s heart-breaking Conference North play-off final defeat 12 months ago will spur them on at Chorley on Saturday.

The Lions head west for the second season running with the prize at stake being Conference football just as it was when they visited Moss Lane against Altrincham on May 10, 2014.

No Guiseley fan or player will need reminding of how a last-gasp extra-time goal from Greg Wilkinson secured promotion for the Robins and left the visitors shattered in a cruel 2-1 loss.

Eight of the side who lined up that Saturday afternoon at Alty are likely to stride out this weekend at Victory Park for Guiseley, seeking to sample the sweet sensation of play-off glory at this level in their fifth consecutive appearance in the end-of-season lottery at Conference North level.

Among that number is ex-Huddersfield Town player Holdsworth, whose second-half strike helped book Guiseley a place in the final in a fine 2-1 win at AFC Fylde in their semi-final second leg on Saturday.

Holdsworth, 31, a member of Huddersfield’s victorious Division Three play-off final winning squad, who beat Mansfield Town on penalties at the Millennium Stadium in May 2004, said: “I think if you look at the squad now, we have a lot of lads who are experienced in the Football League and non-league and they have all been involved in play-off competitions – whether in the Football League, this league or the one below.

“Everybody knows what it takes and the heartbreak from last year is going to spur us on even more.

“We have now got to go a job over at Chorley.”

Guiseley survived a big character test in their second leg at Fylde, with the Lancastrians levelling the scores on aggregate after a strike inside the first 20 seconds at Kellamergh Park on Saturday.

But Danny Boshell nodded Guiseley level on the day and back 2-1 in front on aggregate, before a rare strike from Holdsworth – who formed a vastly experienced central midfield axis with Boshell – saw the Lions through 3-1 on aggregate.

Holdsworth added: “We went to Fylde to do a job and did that to the best of our ability and bossed the game for large parts.

“We went a goal down in the first minute.

“But we stuck to the task and dusted ourselves down and got ourselves back into the game and I thought we were different class all the way through.”

And on his sweet strike, he said: “I just closed my eyes and hit it and thankfully it went in.

“Me and Bosh have been having a joke saying the ‘old-timers’ are bringing the young ones through. We have got another four years left scoring goals like that!”

Guiseley face pumped-up opponents this weekend in Chorley, who secured a dramatic penalty shoot-out success over Boston United in their semi-final second leg at York Street.

Chorley hung on with 10 men in extra time before triumphing 5-4 in an epic shoot-out after the tie ended deadlocked at 2-2 after a goalless first leg.

Hero for the Magpie was goalkeeper Sam Ashton, who dramatically saved the 14th kick of the shootout to win it for the Lancastrians.

Magpies boss Garry Flitcroft said: “The players were bouncing in that dressing-room and can’t wait for next Saturday.”