AFTER drawing three blanks, City finally notched their first win in this absorbing clash. Two goals in four minutes at the beginning of the second half were the difference between the sides who matched each other for the most of the game. Celebrations were unfortunately marred by a nasty knock to Dan Rice’s head which required hospital treatment.
Midweek games can be pretty tricky to get to at times, especially if you are having to make your way there straight from work. Chris Pegman and I experienced this little challenge when, having met at Egham station, we got completely lost in the town’s ‘mean’ back streets. Some might say (and of course I couldn’t comment) that Chris’s map-reading skills were to blame! Anyway, we both arrived at the pub in time to sink a swift half with Lofty and head on into the ground.
Having been ignominiously dumped out of the FA Cup the previous Saturday and thumped 4-0 in the first home game of the season, this match really was a chance for Guildford City to show they would fight for a good league placing this season. They started well, winning a corner in the 3rd minute and then a freekick 6 minutes later which was curled just wide of the Egham goal. As expected though the home side came back, and in the 11th minute it took some determined defending in the box by City’s captain Andy Wylde to prevent Egham getting on the scoresheet. A minute later though, Dan Rice complained to City’s bench that he had blurred vision and was feeling pins and needles down one side of his face and his arm, after a knock on the head. Taking no risks, Dan was brought off immediately and an ambulance called. Obviously we were all very relieved to hear he was given the all clear and released from hospital the next day.
While all this was happening however, City were trying to keep their minds on winning the football match and were coming close to notching their first goal. In the 13th minute Aneel jinked past several players and unleashed a shot on goal which appeared to hit the arm of an Egham player before going behind. Despite loud appeals from the City players, no penalty was given, although the Egham keeper, Clark Gooding was forced into a spectacular diving save from the resulting corner. The home side started to come back into the game, Jay having to be on top form to pluck a superb hanging cross out of the air in the 15th minute and smothering a shot from Egham’s midfielder, Jeffrey Caney, five minutes later. Back came the visitors though and in the 25th minute Aneel and Craig Duffell combined to create an opening for City, Craig unfortunately shooting wide of the upright.
There would not be many more clear cut chances in the half for City and much of the last 20 minutes were spent containing a determined Egham side – something the back three did with some success. A hefty dose of luck was served up in the 34th minute though when Charles Muldowney crossed to an unmarked Caney but the midfielder could only head over the bar. Three minutes later, after a further shot on goal, the home side had another good chance, Jay saving and smothering a point blank shot on goal from Muldowney. In the 40th minute, City had another let off. Muldowney was involved again but this time (to the undoubted annoyance of his team mates) he appeared to head the ball off the City line from a corner! The Guildford side had ridden their luck but at least had the final chance of the half, two successive corners culminating in Craig Duffell heading over in the 42nd minute. Craig was booked a minute later by the referee for a badly timed challenge and the half finished all square.
Half time was spent in Egham’s clubhouse, quaffing beer and crisps. To my complete dismay there were no burgers being sold at the ground (the staff apparently being on holiday…) and this was taken up with the youths that made up the majority of the home support in the form of chants. A further chant developed of ‘Corner! Corner!’ which rapidly became ‘Korma! Korma!’ and then ‘Byriani! Byriani!’ I could go on but I think you can imagine some of the other variations. Meanwhile Mr Plested was keeping a low profile having insulted the Egham right back and been challenged to a fight after the match!
Anyway the City fans were soon forgetting the lack of food when, two minutes into the second half, Guildford scored. It came from a well delivered Aneel Azeem corner and all Greg Levene had to do was stick his foot out and divert it into the net. It was a richly deserved goal for the midfielder, on loan from Walton and Hersham, and making his first start. Barely had the visiting fans registered the lead, than City were 2-0 up. A freekick was won, some 30 yards out which was duly cleared by the Egham defence but only as far as Simon Sheppard on the edge of the box and he duly leathered the ball into the back of the net. Two minutes later it could have been three, Levene who had started to boss the centre of the park, putting an excellent cross into the box which Shane Duffell couldn’t quite connect with.
The home side were clearly stunned and it took them around 15 minutes to threaten again, despite a triple substitution near the hour mark. All their endeavour, however, could not trouble a City side playing with renewed confidence and a two goal buffer. There was a goalmouth scramble in the 68th minute, which Jay eventually managed to put a stop to and four minutes later an even closer call when the Guildford goalkeeper was forced to save off the line from another corner. In the 79th minute Egham won a freekick which failed to trouble Jay, despite a nasty bend on the shot and in the dying minutes the home side could have opened their account but for an impressive diving save from City’s own Argentinean. Guildford meanwhile should have increased their lead seven minutes from time when another debutant, Charles Emery, found himself free in the box but could only put the ball over the bar.
The titanic struggle between Egham and City had not quite finished however. In the final moments of the game a chunk of wood appeared through a hole in the back of the stand we were occupying and then (when it failed to fit) a variety of smaller sticks (or possibly twigs) were flung through by the gang of 11 year olds secreted behind. It was pretty scary I can tell you…..
EGHAM TOWN: C. Gooding; A. Oaks; M. Scotchford; M. Smith; T. Bentley; T. Martin; J. Caney; N. Patel (sub S. Wadge, 61); L. Phelan; C. Muldowney (sub S. Loveridge); D. Swyana (sub K. Bailey, 61)