THIS was another match we will want to forget. City were matched and at times outplayed by their Combined Counties League 1 opponents and seemed unable to make their superiority in certain parts of the pitch count. They were not helped by a sloping pitch dried out by the sun and resembling a sandpit in certain parts, yet could and should have at least taken this tie to a replay. The sending off of Rob Parrott and the scuffle which developed near the technical area only added to the frustration. To make matters worse, Guildford now go down in history as the first side to be beaten by Frimley Green in the FA Cup – this is no mean feat, given that Frimley Green were founded in 1919.
For a small group of City fans, the day started early in order to get up to a Frimley bar to watch the first Premier League game of the season. As this involved Arsenal v West Bromwich Albion, I had a particular interest in the result. Having predicted a 3-0 hammering I was pleasantly surprised that West Brom really competed and made some decent chances in the second half. They were unable to stop the Gooners winning 1-0 however with Nasri scoring the fastest ever debut goal by an Arsenal player in the Premier League. For my own happiness I am hoping one or other of my two teams will have a reasonable season. Far too early to make that judgment at the moment but I live in hope….
Frimley Green’s ground, cited on the recreation ground was an unusual place to visit. The clubhouse, while looking a little forbidding on the outside was actually quite cosy and could be reached by walking through the technical area of the pitch! By far the biggest issue for Frimley is the ease at which passers by can watch games without having to pay, a fact which was to cause a few interesting exchanges during the course of the game. The biggest shock to City fans on inspecting the team sheet was to see Jay Gindre relegated to the bench and new signing Chris Peck making his debut between the sticks.
Guildford started the game well, winning a freekick in the 4th minute which was cleared by the Frimley Green defence. A minute later Rob Parrott made the first of many rampaging runs into the box and won a corner – the resulting setpiece being comfortably dealt with once again by the home side. Frimley started to grow in confidence as the half wore on, however, and won a freekick in a dangerous area themselves in the 10th minute – luckily for City, the 30 yard attempt on goal went over the bar. Back came the visitors, winning a corner three minutes later and then forcing Matt Watson, the Frimley keeper, to punch a dangerous cross out of the box. The home side nearly snatched a bizarre opener 4 minutes later though when the ball was hoofed towards the City goal at a range of 90 yards. A misunderstanding between Chris Peck and one of the defenders resulted in the ball bouncing over the keeper’s head, hitting the post and being hurriedly cleared.
The jitters appeared to have started for City and the home side took full advantage. Two minutes after the near catastrophe, Gareth Rapley, the Frimley striker, shot powerfully at goal from the edge of the box and won a corner: ‘they’ve got their whole team on the goal-line’ said one amazed Frimley fan as City successfully, albeit nervously, defended the resulting corner. City responded though and won another corner in the 22nd minute, Aneel putting in an excellent cross which no-one was able to connect with. Three minutes later, Simon Sheppard, working his socks off as usual, got the ball and made it to the byline before his cross was blocked by resolute Frimley defending. Guildford appeared to at least be asserting themselves on the game and it seemed as if a breakthrough might be only moments away. A chance certainly came in the 31st minute when a goalmouth scramble developed in the Frimley box after a City corner: not for the first time though, the Frimley defenders were equal to the challenge and the ball was cleared. Two minutes later Rob Parrott made a rampaging run and appeared to be barged in the box but the referee waved away the appeals for a penalty. The visitors responded to this pressure with some pressure of their own, Mark Peters sending a thirty yard piledriver over the bar in the 37th minute. Aneel responded three minutes later sending another pinpoint cross to Rob Parrott who could only head over from long range. The final chance of the half fell to the home side in the dying moments when Mark Thomas hit a superb drive which was met by en equally excellent save by Chris Peck and was turned ibehind for a corner. Danny Harrison headed the resulting cross just over the bar.
After the 4-0 drubbing the previous Wednesday, the first half had not progressed quite how the Guildford fans had hoped – still there had been some glimmers of light and they remained confident of at least getting a replay. Into the clubhouse they trooped (via a kick-about on the pitch). Matt Brown seemed unimpressed with his pint of Guinness but largely a very relaxing time was spent drinking and watching the halftime results come in as well as the Olympics. It also allowed some new chants to be developed – the latest one: ‘If you need a goal, and you need it good, who you gonna call? Craig Duffell!’
The second half kicked off with Lofty stranded in the bar having ‘accidentally’ ordered two pints of beer instead of one. Hmmm. Still there was a view of sorts to be had from the window. City started confidently and eked out a few opportunities, Aneel crossing to Rob Parrott in the 54th minute but not quite finding him. Three minutes later though, it was the home side who celebrating. Guildford gave away a freekick on the edge of their box and Mark Peters stepped up to curl a fabulous shot past Peck and into the bottom corner of the net. There was little the keeper could have done (although maybe the wall could have done a better job) and fans hoped that perhaps this would give City the kick up the arse they needed to take the match to the visitors. Three minutes after the goal Dan Rice delivered a wonderful freekick from the halfway line which Rob Parrott headed just over from distance. The home side came back and in the 64th minute had another freekick near the City box, a Frimley player just failing to connect with the ball when it was delivered to the far post. Then came the defining moment of the game: in the 67th minute Craig Duffell ran into the box and was comprehensively taken out, the ref pointed to the penalty spot and Simon Sheppard stepped up to take it. Surely this was the turning point in the game, the point where Guildford put the disappointments of the last few games behind them and pushed on for a hard fought win or at least secure a replay? It was not to be: Simon’s penalty was saved expertly by Watson. After this let-off the home side appeared to be even more driven to kill the game off and in 69th minute they would have done so had Rob Parrott not put in a superb sliding tackle to deny Mark Peters his second of the game. The visitors responded, desperately throwing everything they had at Frimley in an attempt to get back into the game. In the 72nd minute Guildford nearly squeezed a freekick near the corner flag into the goal and two minutes later the home keeper was forced to claw the ball away from the goal after another excellent City corner. Dan Dunning then had another chance to even the scores, sending in a good header on goal which was caught on the line.
Guildford appeared to be doing all the right things but their fortunes were about to get even worse. In the 80th minute Rob Parrott was fouled pretty badly in the Frimley Green area. The referee didn’t appear to have seen it, much less to be awarding a penalty. Rob lost his rag; started on both the referee and the player, and was promptly sent off for using foul and abusive language. This sparked a scuffle on the sideline between a member of the Guildford City coaching staff and a Frimley Green official which took some time to break up and added a distinctly bad atmosphere to the proceedings. This was not helped by a supposed Frimley Green ‘fan’ watching from the other side of the fence who started criticising the behviour of Rob Parrott. An argument developed when Shahid commented that this gentleman’s opinion didn’t really count when he hadn’t even paid to attend the game. ‘Oh but my son plays for them so I’m allowed’ was his retort. Needless to say he attracted a bit of stick from the City fans, ‘Stand up if you paid to get in’ being a particular favourite!
With all the added time this drama had caused, the game was far from over. In the 87th minute Chris Peck pulled off another good save, touching the ball onto the bar and behind from a powerful drive. A minute later it was City’s turn, forcing the keeper to turn the ball over his own bar from a corner. Several more corners followed for the visitors but they were unable to trouble the Frimley keeper and the match finished, characteristically, with another yellow card, this time for Dan Dunning after a mistimed challenge.
FRIMLEY GREEN: M. Watson; A. Grace; G. Tomkins; M. Robertson; D. Harrison; P. Wilsher; G. Stevens; M. Thomas (sub M. Brewer, 74); G. Rapley (sub D. Hounsell, 82); M. Peters; C. Shearer (sub M. Ruffles, 45)
Subs not used: A. O’Brien; M. Confrey; D. Tillson
GUILDFORD CITY: C. Peck; D. Rice; R. Lunn (sub K. Philpott, 64); S. Coyle; A. Wylde; D. Dunning; R. Parrott; J. Stevens (sub Matt Martin, 75); C. Duffell; S. Sheppard; A. Azeem (sub Greg Levene, 81)
Subs not used: I. Copp; S. Duffell; J. Gindre