GUISELEY were forced into wholesale changes for Saturday's visit to Darlington and although they conceded five goals, it has to be said that they came away with their heads held high.

With fifteen players missing through injury, suspension and self-isolation, the Guiseley management added six players to the first team squad for the visit to Blackwell Meadows.

Luke Hall joined from World’s Oldest Club, Sheffield FC, on a dual registration basis together with midfielder Andrai Jones who has returned for his third spell to help out the Lions.

Making the step up from the Academy were Oli Reape, Harrison Leigh, Ellis Farrar and Jakub Hebda in addition to Josh Stones who signed first team forms earlier in the week.

Darlington went into the game on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Southport in midweek and were looking to get back to winning ways with ex-Lions Will Hatfield, Jake Cassidy and Alex Purver in their starting line-up.

But if the home side thought this was going to be a walk in the park, those thoughts were dispelled in the very first minute as Stones barged over Alex Story to signal the young Lions intent.

After some intense pressure, the Quakers took an early the lead on eight minutes with Jack Lambert playing the ball out to Jarrett Rivers and then taking the return pass before taking it on and shooting under the advancing Declan Lambton.

One minute before the break, the home side managed to grab the goal that all but sealed the game with Cassidy forcing the ball under Lambton.

If that second goal had effectively sealed the win, then the award of a penalty just after the restart made sure with Hatfield converting the spot kick after Lambert had been fouled.

But if Darlington thought they had sewn it up, they were rocked back on their heels on 67 minutes when a good move down the right found Gratton who in searching for an opening cut in from the right before laying the ball off to Lewis Hey to side foot home from eight yards.

It should have been 4-1, but Alex Storey saw his effort cleared off the line and Lambton pulled off a couple of good saves to deny the home side, but even he couldn’t do anything about Jake Cooper heading home from a corner.

After another couple of saves from Lambton, it was left to Darlo substitute Junior Mondal to wrap it up with three minutes remaining as he latched on to a through ball from Jarrett Rivers, evaded Lambton and stroked the ball into the empty net.

In the end, the Lions took a risk and it didn’t pay off, but on the plus side there won’t be many clubs teams at this level with the confidence to give several Academy players a taste of first team football against one of the pre-season favourites and in that respect it was a brave decision by Guiseley.

While in the wider scheme of things, the club certainly reaped the dividends ahead of this weekend's Emirates FA Cup tie at AFC Wimbledon.

It will be an exciting occasion for everyone involved at Guiseley as they look to book a second round spot in the world famous competition.     REPORT VIA: GUISELEY