CITY did not conclude their excellent season in the way they would have wanted in this disappointing and bad tempered defeat to a side which finished third from bottom in the league. For all their slick passing and chances on goal, Guildford struggled to make headway against Bedfont who were determined to finish a below-par season on a high. The home side, it has to be said, were helped by some puzzling decisions from the referee.
City fans travelled to The Orchard in party mood – their side having achieved its highest ever league placing since the formation of AFC Guildford in 1996. Matt Howell and his gang of crazy students were in particularly good voice and had travelled down in fancy dress – the theme? A beach party – so lots of sombreros, flower necklaces, Bermuda shorts, Hawaiian shirts… you get the picture. Unfortunately (and I think it may have been my idea) a great many decided to go topless as well for part of the match which put a few people of their burgers!! Guildford’s goalkeeper all had a special tribute – an Argentinean flag with GCFC written across the middle, and chants of ‘Argentina! Argentina!’ whenever he made a good save. But it was a day for all City’s players to be given credit for their superb performance this season and the terraces resounded with the name of just about every City player during the course of the match.
And so to the match, and things didn’t go City’s way almost from the start. Guildford won a freekick in the 8th minute which was cleared and within a minute the home side were a goal up. Jay Gindre produced a good save but Russell Miner was there to follow up and easily slotted the ball away. The Surrey side were not about to capitulate in their last match of the season however, and they set about getting back into the game with their usual determination. In the 16th minute they almost levelled the scores, when a weak shot beat the keeper and trickled towards goal – but it hit the post and was hacked away. Bedfont fought back however and four minutes later won a freekick on the edge of the City area which was easily cleared by the Guildford defenders. The match ebbed and flowed for the next ten minutes or so, an excellent cross field ball in the 28th minute just eluding Aneel Azeem. A minute later, the Bedfont defender, Mark Ryan earned himself a yellow card for both tripping Rob Parrott and then kicking the ball away.
A further chance came City’s way some 11 minutes from the end however – and what a goal it would have been. Another fabulous cross field ball found Aneel Azeem on the right wing, his first time volley would have gone in at the near post but for a smart take by the keeper, catching it at his feet. The remainder of the half was pretty much end to end stuff – the home side winning another freekick in a dangerous area which was yet again dealt with by Guildford’s defenders and then the visitors winning a corner in the 38th minute from which Lee Allum’s header had to be cleared off the line. Yet another Bedfont freekick was cleared 3 minutes later, followed by a near-calamitous misunderstanding between the home side’s keeper and defender which could so easily have resulted in an own goal. The half concluded with an excellent save from Jay Gindre following a dubious award of a freekick for handball.
The scoreline was not what the fans would have wanted but the party atmosphere was in full swing for the City supporters. Matt, as usual, has spiced up proceedings with some superbly crafted chants including ‘Terminal 5 – you’re having a laugh’ and ‘Stick your planes up your arse!’ (references to the ground’s proximity to Heathrow and hence the large number of aircraft criss-crossing the skies above). The band was also in full swing with George providing full percussive accompaniment (but refusing drum on my nipples when I asked him to….!) There was also a bit of a side-show developing between Lofty and the Bedfont goalkeeper. Having let out a comment of ‘Your Mum!’ while the keeper gathered the ball, Loft was smartly told by the keeper that he would ‘meet him there after the match’. The fact that he then went on to the change ends at half time caused much amusement to Lofty who then kept asking him where precisely he wanted to meet him?!! This encounter would reach its climax when the final whistle was blown….
The second half very much continued where the first half had left off and gave the City fans hope that a goal might just be on the cards. This seemed to be confirmed 7 minutes in when ‘The New Pele/Gandhi’ aka Dan May put the ball into the back of the net only for it to be disallowed. Four minutes later Aneel put an excellent ball across the face of goal but unfortunately no City player was there to follow it up. The City midfielder then had to be treated by the physio after taking a knock near the Bedfont area. In the 64th minute came what should have been a triumphant City leveller – and a sure candidate for goal of the season. Rob Parrott expertly controlled a high ball on the half way line and then ran at the Bedfont defence, beat 1, 2, 3 defenders and then set his sights on goal. The back of the net was just a kick away but unfortunately Rob put his shot just over the bar – still looked flippin’ impressive though! A minute later Simon Sheppard nearly atoned for Rob’s miss, his close range shot being saved by the keeper’s feet after he had received the ball from a throw-in. These two chances concluded City’s last real chances of grabbing a share of the spoils and the match then took a back seat as the referee decided he would put himself centre-stage. Having made a number of puzzling decisions throughout the game, the ref then decided not to send off Pinto, the Bedfont midfielder, after he threw a punch at Lee O’Donnell right in front of him. This not surprisingly provoked loud protests from the Guildford players and supporters. After this the match petered out although both Dean Peltohaka and Aneel Azeem had chances in the dying moments of the game and Jay Gindre pulled off another top drawer save to deny Bedfont at the death.
So the football was over, but the entertainment was very much beginning…. Lofty and the Bedfont keeper had a score to settle. The confrontation when it happened was less Hatton v Mayweather and more Batty v Sharples!! A volley of abuse was hurled at Lofty and the Guildford fans in general (including Chris’s missus), another of the Bedfont players decided to get involved, some abuse (and some appeals to reason from Mrs Pegman) were hurled back and the Bedfont keeper stomped off in a huff. ‘I told him the City fans were going to wind him up!’ said a Bedfont official after the game – looks like they succeeded a little too well. Smiles quickly returned to faces though when the all Guildford players came over the to the terrace to shake the fans by the hand and thank them for their support throughout the season. All that remained was for the players and fans to head back to Guildford, get their glad rags on and prepare for the end of season bash at Guildford Golf Club. Great night, great season. Let’s hope we can go one better in 2008/09.
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Gindre; R. Parrott (sub D. Rice, 60); L. O’Donnell (sub D. Peltohaka, 75); M. Tomlinson; P. Andrews; S. Cannie; A. Azeem; R. White; D. May; S. Sheppard; L. Allum
Subs not used: A. Wylde; M. Edwards; M. Mercer
BEDFONT: D. Banks; M. Clark (sub J. Todd, 55); M. Ryan; G. Donnelly; G. Lambert; J. Shaw; R. Pinto; L. Redhead; J. Henry (sub. A. Chenneour, 45); R. Miner; J. Mngadi
Subs not used: .S. Potter; R. Bond; T. Thomas