GUILDFORD City tightened their hold on second place in this far from pretty game, played once again in terrible weather conditions. While they were the better team for long periods of the match, the home side showed once again an inability to kill their opponents off after deservedly taking the lead in the first half. Once again they were fortunate that their profligacy was not punished.
It has to be said that this was a match for the die hard fan – you would never have caught one of Roy Keane’s ‘prawn sandwich’ mob at the Spectrum in these sort of conditions (well to be honest in any sort of conditions go you know what I mean….!) Those that could be bothered to get out of bed for the 11.30am start (yes Mssrs Brown and Plested I’m talking to you!) stood patiently in the cold and rain, cheering the all too occasional piece of good football. There were a few bonuses though – not least the welcome addition of bacon to the snack bar menu (a consolation for the ‘early’ kick off). Rather greedily I decided to ask for a Guildford City burger with cheese and bacon which was delicious if a little messy and not particularly healthy!
The match started well for the home side, a superb shot from Scott Steele forcing an equally impressive save from the Cove keeper, three minutes into the game. Two minutes later City should have been 1-0 up after Paul Andrews headed over from a corner with the goal at his mercy. The game then settled into a quiet a period with very few inroads being made by either side and the muddy conditions and divots in the pitch hampering any attempt to play good football. However it sparked back into life in the 25th minute when the visitors put together a good move which ended in an impressive shot just wide of the City goal. A Cove player appeared to have been fouled in the build up but not for the first time, the ref waved play on. Three minutes later Scott Steele was unfortunate after being put through on goal but not quite able to get to the ball before the keeper. Back came Cove and in the 33rd minute a brave dive from Jay Gindre to smother the ball prevented a very good chance for the visitors. In doing so, the opposing player kicked him and he spent the next 5 minutes or so being treated on the ground. Luckily he was up and running again very quickly.
City were dominating possession but allowing Cove the occasional chance on the counter attack and they were lucky when an opposition player headed wide from an excellent cross in the 43rd minute. Two minutes later it was Guildford’s turn to waste a good chance, Ben Thorne firing just wide of the post when unmarked in the box. In these conditions it was going to take something special to break the deadlock and Scott Steele duly delivered it in the dying moments of the half. He sent a raking thirty yard pass across the pitch to Aneel Azeem on the right wing who beat his man, ran to the by-line and then pulled the ball back for Reece White to run on to. Reece appeared to stumble (possibly pushed) but in doing so he kicked the ball which rolled in at the near post, just beating the Cove keeper’s despairing dive.
It had not been a classic match so far, but with City playing well and now a goal in front there was plenty of hope for the watching supporters that they would be able to score again and close the game out. The second half offered plenty of hope that this could happen with the home side going close in the 51st minute – a good attacking move ending with the ball being volleyed over. Five minutes later it was Cove’s turn, a powerful shot being put wide of the City goal after some impressive passing. City went on the attack again and in the 62nd minute Aneel Azeem sent over a pinpoint cross which Scott Steele met on the half volley and the ball whistled just over the bar (a truly superb goal if it had gone in). In the next five minutes the home side had two more gilt-edged chances to finish the game off – first Scott Steele forced a save from the keeper from a powerful shot and then Dean Peltohaka, free in the box, could only volley over the bar.
This wastefulness seemed to give Cove some hope that they could get something and they now started to threaten City’s hold on the game. First, in the 73rd minute, they won a freekick in a dangerous position on the edge of the Guildford penalty area but were unable to trouble the keeper. Four minutes later they caused the home side all sorts of problems from a corner, the ball appearing to pinball around the penalty area before a City defender finally managed to clear it. The home side were still desperately trying to get the killer goal but despite two excellent chances from Aneel Azeem and Mark Mercer in the 82nd and 86th minutes respectively they could not do it. The final minutes of the match resembled the Alamo as City defended for their lives and Jay Gindre well and truly earned his crust, diving bravely onto a dangerous low cross and charging out to clear a pass which would have put a Cove player through on goal. The home side’s hard work paid off however and they recorded their fourth win in five matches.
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Gindre; A. Wylde; L. Allum; P. Andrews; M. Tomlinson; S. Cannie; A. Azeem; R. White; M. Mercer; S. Steele; B. Thorne (sub D. Peltohaka, 57)
Subs not used: L. Wye; S. Pothecary; T. Mukabaa; D. May
COVE: K. Hatton; J. Powell; A. Millerick; J. Keith; K. During; G. Hardy (sub, 68); S. Lampard; A. Vine; M. Girling; M. Torino; D. Robinson.
Other subs: M. Laden; P. Western; S. Sinclair; N. Cossa; B. Yates