DESPITE, a phenomenal late strike by Brad Nicholson, Guiseley were bested 4-1 by a rampant Darlington side.

Marcus Bignot and Russ O’Neill were hoping they could kickstart their season at Nethermoor, after not having a game for the last three weeks due to a positive coronavirus test within the squad.

Meanwhile, the away side were looking to pick up their third consecutive victory on the road, having recently defeated League One side Swindon Town in the FA Cup First Round.

Darlington would be without EFL journeyman Nicky Hunt, who picked up a worrying injury against Boston United last week.

An opening opportunity fell to Omar Holness on the edge of the box, but his courageous effort was diverted over the bar by Bradley Wade.

The Quakers remained on top, as a poor clearance fell to former Lion Will Hatfield, who half-volleyed onto the crossbar and behind.

20 minutes in and Darlington’s Michael Liddle was injured and replaced with David Atkinson.

A second change in the match occurred when Jonathan Wafula was forced off for Jack Ryan.

The feisty encounter, which had seen three bookings in the opening 25 minutes, had its breakthrough when captain Hamza Bencherif brought down Dan Maguire in the box, and referee Peter Shacklady awarded the visitors a penalty.

Campbell comfortably disposed the spot kick, firing the ball beneath Wade to grasp his fourth of the season.

42 minutes in and a goal mouth scramble for Darlington, as Josef Wheatley forced Wade into a double save before Maguire bundled it over the line, although it took confirmation from the assistant referee for the goal to stand.

Following five minutes of stoppage time, Guiseley were put out of their misery. A really underwhelming first half for the home side.

A singular change happened at the interval, as Kian Harratt replaced Matty Gillam.

One minute in and Darlington would again be forced into a change, Holness limped off for Jarrett Rivers.

And it would prove influential, as Rivers played the ball into Erico Sousa on the right wing who showed some trickery to rocket the ball across goal, where an outstretching Maguire poked in his second of the game.

The onslaught continued, as former Bradford City stalwart Tony McMahon rattled the bar from distance.

74 minutes in and the Lions humiliation worsened, as Sousa found some space in the box before unleashing a ferocious strike into the top corner, leaving Wade with no chance.

Both sides made their third and final change, as Andy Kellett replaced Howarth for the Lions, and Maguire was substituted for Levi Amantchi.

The home side did eventually break the impressive Quakers defence. A tremendous free-kick was blasted into the top corner by Brad Nicholson - a consolation or a late comeback?

But it was too little too late, as Shacklady brought the affair to an abrupt end with the points going home with Darlington.

A disappointed O’Neill post-match said: “I think everything that could’ve gone wrong after 15-20 minutes did go wrong.

"It’s been a few weeks since we last played, I’d imagine Darlington have had five or six games in that time.

“In all honesty, I think you could see that they were a yard sharper than us, they were first to everything and more aggressive.

"The basics weren’t even there for us today, it’s the middle of November and that’s our fourth league game.

"We can’t make no excuses because that’s how it’s going to be this season, not only for us but for other teams as well.

“And the decision from the referee, which I think from the TV it’s blatantly not a penalty. It’s a dive and he’s come from blind side, looked for him and then fallen over. That knocked the stuffing out of us.”

It will be tough for Guiseley to bounce back with a win when they host leaders Gloucester City on Saturday.

Gabriel Ramsey