Report by David Bridson

GABRIEL Johnson bagged a second consecutive home hat-trick as Guiseley saw off Workington 4-3 in a frenetic contest to further push towards the play-off ranks.

The sterling contest began at breakneck pace with both sides battling for supremacy. Johnson’s first, a neat finish into the bottom left corner, gave the Lions an early 4th minute lead. Workington immediately pressed their hosts for an equaliser as Guiseley fought valiantly to preserve their lead. But opposition striker Steven Rigg found a gap in the Lions defence before slotting home in the 15th minute to level the game.

Liam Tongue broke the equallly resiliant Workington back line five minutes later with a well directed strike but goalkeeper James Atkinson was equal to the opportunity.

In the 23rd minute, however, defender Aiden Walker powered a free header home from a Lions corner to once again give Guiseley the advantage.

Moments later Workington captain David Symington was lucky to avoid at least a caution for a hard-hitting challange on Ollie Brown, a tackle so fierce that the Guiseley right-back was quickly subsituted by Josh Ashman.

Both sides crossed swords in the midfield, fighting for each ball and every chance that came their way.

Symington was cautioned in the 36th minute for a tough tackle on Reece Kendall. The yellow card came prior to a frantic four minute stoppage-time period during which each side successfully converted penalties.

Courtney Meppen-Walters’ foul on the Workington captain allowed former EFL midfielder Jamie Devitt to equalise from the spot in the third minute of added time before Johnson gave the home side a 3-2 lead following a high challenge on Kallan Murphy.

Both sides pushed for victory as soon as the second half began. Ollie Battersby produced a superb double save to deny a third Workington equaliser, the goalkeeper bravely preventing the Cumbrian outfit despite offside being given.

Johnson nearly extended the lead but his header flew wide as the home side piled on the pressure.

But Symington, a thorn in the Lions’ side, slotted home from a precise Kofi Moore pass in the 59th minute to put the match on level terms once more.

Despite Workington being afforded too much room on several occasions since, star striker Johnson completed a scintillating hat-trick in the 72nd minute to put The Lions 4-3 in front.

Johnson picked up the ball near the centre circle before running the entire length of the half and calmly finishing past Atkinson.

The pacey Jordi Nsaka weaved his way past several Workington defenders six minutes later but his shot slid past the post.

The visitors surged for a leveller while Guiseley sought game management during a nervy remainder of this fantastic game.

Away ‘keeper Atkinson joined their attack for a corner in the final moments but the home defence stood firm to avoid a last-gasp equaliser.

The win was a fitting tribute to life member and stalwart supporter and volunteer Brian Dove, who sadly passed away on the morning of the game aged 83. Brian’s passing was marked with a respectful round of applause ahead of a minute’s silence to honour Armistice Day. After discussions with Brian’s family there will be a full tribute at an upcoming home game.

Guiseley remain seventh, level with Macclesfield on 26 points while Ashton United are one point ahead in the final play-off position.