By Shaun Moloney
Guiseley and FC Halifax Town seem to be impossible to separate after completing their third 1-1 draw of the season in the first leg of the Blue Square Bet North play-offs semi-finals at The Shay last night.
Dan Gardner put Halifax ahead in the 16th minute with a spot-kick after Alex Johnson was judged to have been pushed in the back during an aerial challenge.
Their West Yorkshire neighbours replied in the 59th minute through a powerful header from defender Danny Ellis.
The opening gambits of the game proved nervy for both sides as they seemed to size each other up at the expense of creating chances.
Halifax’s penalty was the first real opportunity of the game, with Dan Gardner converting
after being forced to re-take the kick by referee Adrian Holmes.
The match then seemed to endure a large spell of Halifax domination, with Guiseley’s Aaron Hardy clearing a Matt Pearson chance off the line.
Halifax’s Lee Gregory then caused Guiseley goalkeeper Steven Drench to flap for the ball during a chance and as the Shay faithful roared for another penalty, the referee urged play to continue as the eventual shot deflected harmlessly out for a corner.
Guiseley created little before the half-time whistle and manager Steve Kittrick must have been asking questions as to why their Yorkshire rivals were able to cause so much havoc.
The Lions seem to emerge from the break stronger – almost hitting back immediately as Halifax goalkeeper Matt Glennon denied James Walshaw from close range.
Guiseley then found the net as captain Andy Holdsworth lofted a free-kick into the box and Danny Ellis rose above all others to thump a header past the helpless goalkeeper.
Lee Gregory then almost re-established the lead for the hosts as Steven Drench found himself in no-man’s-land but Gregory’s lifted shot hit the post, much to the dismay of the South Stand.
Josh Wilson almost stole the first leg for the Lions at the death but was spurned by slightest of touches by Matt Glennon.
With the tie poised at 1-1, both teams will feel it is there for the taking.
The second leg will take place at Nethermoor on Saturday at 3pm.