Healey 18, 72, 86
Liburd 60, 80
A HAT-TRICK for Rhys Healey was the only positive United to take from a depressing 4-3 defeat at home to bottom-club Guiseley, who played 88 minutes with 10 men.
Harry Flowers was sent off in the opening exchanges for a professional foul on Elliott Romain but when United’s striker missed the subsequent penalty, Guiseley instantly countered to open the scoring from Dayle Southwell in a frenetic start to the game.
Healey levelled on 18 minutes but William Hatfield restored the Guiseley lead before half-time, and then substitute Rowan Liburd headed in a fine third. Healey again reduced the arears, Liburd again struck for a 4-2 and the hat-trick goal was not enough to prevent a disappointing loss.
United boss Gary Owers made just one change to the side held to the 1-1 draw at Hartlepool that confirmed our relegation, restoring Romain to the attacking trio after his three-match ban, with Brett Williams rested on the bench.
Guiseley had their fate sealed a week earlier and arrive at Plainmoor for what will be their sixth game in just 22 days, the most recent a late home defeat to Woking, who are left to fight out with Barrow for the final survival spot.
The evening took an early turn in United’s favour, as Romain displayed express pace to surge clear of Flowers and when the Guiseley defender bundled him over in the box, referee Simon Barrow pointed to the spot and dismissed the visiting centre-back.
Romain grabbed the ball and fired low to the right of Joseph Green but the Guiseley custodian read the plan to produce a superb one-handed save. Before United could even digest the minor setback, Guiseley were in front, pouncing on a distracted defence to slot home through Southwell.
Inside the space of four minutes, Guiseley had a man sent off, took the lead and United had missed a penalty. At least there could be no accusations of a boring start, as Victor Nirrennold dropped back into a defensive role for the Lions.
A long ball over the top from Liam Davis then found Romain and his touch took him past Green just as the goalkeeper clattered into the forward on loan from Dagenham, prompting strong claims for a second penalty.
Parity was restored on 18 minutes and it was down to some excellent work from Davis, dancing down the wing before a low cutback to Healey was expertly steered low into the net by the loanee from Cardiff.
The Gulls were turning the screw and Green needed his full wingspan to turn over a header from Jamie Reid. Three corners sparked panic in the Guiseley defence, followed by a pinpoint Sean McGinty cross nodded over by Josh Gowling.
A clever flicked pass from Healey released Romain for the next United chance but Green was swiftly off his line to thwart the danger. At the other end, a swerving free-kick from John Rooney almost caught out Vincent Dorel, who adjusted his hands quickly enough to palm the ball away.
Green produced yet another stunning block to tip over a rising drive on the turn from Romain, as chances continued to flow in United’s favour.
As if to typify a tough campaign for the Gulls, Guiseley responded with a rare foray and when a succession of ricochets fell nicely for Hatfield in the box, he expertly clipped a tidy finish over the sprawling body of Dorel.
Only sharp reflexes from United’s custodian prevented Southwell from extending the lead just before half-time and the Gulls entered the interval with little to show from the opportunities created.
The first step in rectifying the damage was to introduce Williams and George Dowling for Reid and Conrad Balatoni. Guiseley, meanwhile, brought on Liburd for Kayode Odejayi in attack.
A couple of efforts from distance by Young was the limit of a tepid opening to the second period, with Guiseley clearly content to sit back on their advantage and goalkeeper Green taking as much time as possible with every restart.
The night somehow got even gloomier for United on the hour, as a wicked delivery from Rooney’s corner was met perfectly by the head of Liburd for a tremendous finish into the top corner.
Ruairi Keating for Connor Lemoheigh-Evans was the final change for United but it was proving all too easy for the Lions to repel a home team clearly deflated by the course of the evening, and the season as a whole.
There was finally something to cheer on 72 minutes, when Healey converted his second of the night from close range and hope restored that United could at least get something from the game.
Hope turned to despair 10 minutes from time but credit again to Liburd, who powered his way through the United defence from a swift counter and he then finished with impressive composure, earning the applause of a fed up Family Stand.
There was another twist provided by a wonderful deep cross from Romain and Healey expertly steered his header back across the beaten Green to set up some semblance of a finale.
Guiseley survived an almighty goalmouth scramble in the last minute to hold on for a victory that was a credit to their ten men.
The biggest credit, however, goes to the 1,007 fans, including 20 from Guiseley, who turned up for a dead rubber in the rain.
United (3-4-3): 30 Vincent Dorel; 26 Conrad Balatoni (39 Brett Williams H-T), 6 Josh Gowling, 5 Sean McGinty (capt); 21 Aaron Barnes, 8 Luke Young, 29 Connor Lemonheigh-Evans (10 Ruairi Keating 63), 3 Liam Davis; 19 Jamie Reid (24 George Dowling H-T), 22 Elliott Romain, 28 Rhys Healey. Substitutes (not used): 1 Ryan Clarke (GK), 18 Yan Klukowski.
Guiseley (4-5-1): 13 Joseph Green; 17 Alex Purver (capt), 5 Ashley Palmer, 40 Harry Flowers, 15 Callum McFadzean; 27 Curtis Morrison (34 Darren Holden 70), 42 Victor Nirrennold, 8 William Hatfield, 10 John Rooney, 12 Dayle Southwell; 19 Kayode Odejayi (35 Rowan Liburd H-T). Substitutes (not used): 1 Luke Coddington (GK), 2 Ben Frempah, 39 James Roberts.
Sent Off: Flowers 3
Referee: Simon Barrow
Attendance: 1,007 (20 away)