AGAINST a club forever associated with an advert for the Milk Marketing Board in the 1980s, Guiseley showed they possessed a full pint of FA Cup bottle.
Seeking to reach the second round of the world’s most enchanting domestic cup competition for the first time in their history – at the seventh time of asking – the Lions have not quite achieved that just yet, but it was not for the want of trying.
This was certainly not a case of ‘Guiseley? Who are they?’
Rubbing shoulders with a side who have performed their fair share of cup upsets over the past few years in Accrington, who reached the fourth round of this competition last season, Guiseley went tantalisingly close to turning the tables.
Manager Paul Cox’s side oozed commitment and heart across the pitch, but also a cogent game plan based upon utilising the brute strength of forward duo Mike Fondop and Kayode Odejayi, which troubled the visitors for much of this game.
John Coleman’s side, who had beaten the likes of Preston and Burnley in cup competitions in the previous two years, would have received a taste of their own medicine if it was not for the presence of the quite outstanding Aaron Chapman in the visiting goal.
We could have been 1-0 down inside two minutes. But overall though, I do not think anybody could complain that we deserved a draw.Guiseley manager, Paul Cox
After making three excellent saves to deny Fondop, Jake Lawlor and Kevan Hurst in the first half, Chapman perhaps saved his best until last, making a fine late block to keep out Fondop’s sweet, low goalbound curling shot with his eyeline obscured by a sea of bodies condensed in the penalty area as Guiseley sought a famous – and deserved – winner.
Coleman’s indebtedness to his goalkeeper was clear in his post-match comments, as was his insistence on doffing his cap too and paying due respect to a Guiseley side ranked 42 places below them in the league pyramid.
A year to the day, Stanley had enjoyed a rather more comfortable afternoon just down the road at Bradford City, when they prevailed 2-1.
This was a far rougher ride against a Guiseley side whose direct tactics and aerial threat was pronounced in an absorbing cup tie where the only thing missing was a goal. A home goal.
Accrington will start as clear favourites in the replay in eight days, but with the Lions beginning to generate momentum and assume an identity under new boss Cox, the outcome in Lancashire is definitely not a foregone conclusion.
Cox, whose side extended their unbeaten run to six matches in front of a parochial home crowd, who were enthused by their side’s efforts, said: “It was lovely to see so many people supporting us with a big smile on their faces and getting excited.
“Eight or nine weeks ago, I walked into a football club low on confidence and morale.
“It is now two defeats in 12. The boys need to now take it on a notch.
“It is a positive day even though we have not won it. We have tried to do the right things.
“We started off sloppy against a very good side. They are not second in League Two for no reason.
“We could have been 1-0 down inside two minutes. But overall though, I do not think anybody could complain that we deserved a draw.”
The sight of Guiseley veering off script at the start was thankfully short-lived. The early portents may not have been good for the hosts, but ultimately it was Accrington’s followers who were afforded a longer afternoon.
The opening hinted at normal service for a high-flying side who have earned countless admirers over several seasons with their neat, swift and controlled offensive football and who have displayed their attacking mojo on several occasions already this term.
It should have yielded an opener for someone who knows Nethermoor well in Bradfordian and ex-Guiseley Juniors player Kayden Jackson, whose unfathomable second-minute miss in firing over with the goal at his mercy after Mark Hughes headed Sean McConville’s free-kick into his path was a huge let-off.
McConville also went close to deflating the atmosphere with a deflected low drive, but gradually the tide began to turn as Guiseley, resplendent in the white of their home county, started to fancy their chances of bloodying the nose of a Lancastrian rival dressed in red.
But unfortunately, Chapman was not to be moved. A fine one-headed save to scoop away Fondop’s glancing header caught the eye as did a terrific reflex stop to claw away Lawlor’s header before the break.
The goalkeeper’s agility was soon showcased again in tipping over Hurst’s deflected looping shot with a theme starting to develop.
Chapman stayed on message smartly to smother Fondop’s shot on the turn on the resumption and while home goalkeeper Jon Maxted soon showed his prowess at the other end to prevent Ash Palmer from putting through his own net, the threat was mainly at the other end.
But it was ultimately Chapman’s afternoon and not Fondop’s, with the striker denied his moment again late on. Yet Guiseley live to fight another day.
Guiseley: Maxted; C Brown, Palmer, M’Boungou; Hurst (Haworth 86), Lawlor, Lenighan, Molyneux (Rooney 80); Fondop, Odejayi. Unused substitutes: Green, Lowe, Thompson, McFadzean, Koue.
Accrington: Chapman; Donacien, Richards-Everton, Hughes, Thorniley; Clark, Conneely, S Brown (Johnson 61), McConville; Kee, Jackson. Unused substitutes: Nolan, McLeod, Edwards, Wilks, Ogle, Rawson.
Referee: A Coggins (Oxfordshire).