Guiseley 5 Harrogate Railway 0
A second-half blitz from substitute Kevin Holsgrove secured Guiseley’s place in the West Riding County Cup final for the third-successive year.
The half-time replacement scored a hat-trick inside ten minutes of his inclusion to turn the affair into a 5-0 rout, sending punch-drunk Harro- gate Railway hurtling into the buffers.
On a bitterly cold and rainy evening at Nethermoor Park, it was the visitors who started the brighter of the sides, belying their divisional inferiority with some slick passing moves that penetrated the Guiseley defence on a handful of occasions.
Indeed, both sides tried to employ an easy-on-the-eye approach throughout the match, and the deadlock was broken by such a move on 20 minutes when winger Wayne Brooksby finished off a clever ball from Josh Wilson.
Lions stalwart James Walshaw gave young Railway full-back Simon Wood a torrid time in the opening half-hour, and his darting runs from the left were a constant threat to goalkeeper Lee Ashforth.
Guiseley, who started the worst off from local football’s seemingly annual snow-inflicted ‘winter break’, were now beginning to settle into the match, and as Matt Wilson began to get the better of opposite number Pat McGuire, they began to take control.
With the half winding to a close, Railway threw men forward in a short spell of pressure that should have yielded a goal.
Skipper Jon Maloney missed a chance he would have been disappointed with, and the impressive Danny Hull, operating from the right wing, produced a shot that barely troubled Guiseley keeper Steve Drench from a good position.
Their lack of cutting edge in front of goal was punished shortly before the half-time whistle.
A lapse in defensive concentration and some silky footwork from Walshaw enabled Wilson to give Guise- ley a two-goal cushion at the break.
Kevin Holsgrove, who is enjoying a good season, replaced Walshaw, and set about terrorising the oppos- ition defence with typical bullishness.
His inclusion proved to be the fine-line between a defeat and a thrashing for Railway, whose lack of concentration in defence did as much as anything to give the grateful Welshman a smash-and-grab hat-trick.
This meant that Steve Kittrick could ring the changes. Mark Bower came on for Wilson, and Andy McWilliams replaced the impressive Brooksby, who added to his goal with two of the assists for Holsgrove.
The game slowly petered out as the home side, displaying a savvy passing game, even coped with being reduced to ten men just after the hour mark when centre-half Danny Ellis was forced off with an injury.
Harrogate maintained a share of the possession, but were unable to produce many clear-cut chances. Their best was a long range effort from left-back Colin Hunter.
The visitors handed oppor- tunities to youngsters Sam Akeroyd and Jerome White late on, but neither could make an impact as the game meandered to a 5-0 final scoreline.
The result gives Guiseley the chance to win the trophy for the third year running, with the final to be played at Valley Parade against either Halifax or Ossett.