MORALE levels among City supporters could not get much lower after this abject performance. Guildford were second best for the entire game, appeared worryingly leaden at the back when Colliers Wood’s pacey forwards were rampaging towards the goal and seemed unable to string more than a few passes together. If you weren’t there to witness Guildford’s worst stuffing since any of us can remember, an idea of the side’s lack of attacking threat can be gleaned from the fact that they won two corners in the entire match (both wasted) and managed one shot on goal. If this isn’t the kick up the backside Guildford need to start getting points on the board before they are sucked into a relegation fight then nothing is.
Perhaps our expectation levels were too high – after all this was an away match and up until this game City were unbeaten away from home in the league with all of their 8 points gained away from the Spectrum. We were also still bathing in the relief of having notched the first home win of the season against Egham on Wednesday and expected some of the endeavour shown to close out that match.
Anyway, blissfully unaware of the horrors that lay in store, Chris Pegman and Lofty travelled up to Raynes Park for a few drinks before getting the bus over to Colliers Wood’s ground, Wibbandune, just next to the A3. My intention had been to do the same, however having engaged in an ill-advised after work drinks session the night before, I was feeling a little unwell and in fact still in bed when Chris and Lofty boarded the train from Guildford at around 11am. Confident of still making the match I got on the train to Raynes Park at 1.30, and, about an hour later stepped onto what I believed to be the right bus, heading in the direction of Colliers Wood. It was about 25 minutes into my journey when I realised something was wrong. None of the landmarks Lofty had so painstakingly explained to me over the phone had appeared and the A3 was no-where to be seen. I got out at Colliers Wood tube and, with just 5 minutes to go before kick off phoned Lofty in a panic, explaining where I was. ‘Hmm. I thought we established that Colliers Wood do not actually play in Colliers Wood’ he responded, ‘sounds like you have taken the bus in completely the wrong direction!’. Doh! After a painstaking wait at the bus stop, during which I saw three buses with the wrong number come along, plus what seemed like hundreds of buses with the right number going in the wrong direction, I finally got the one I needed, arriving at Wibbandune with just 5 minutes of the first half left.
During snatched phone conversations with Chris Pegman I had heard the word ‘slaughtered’ being uttered. I wanted so much to believe that this was what we were doing to the home side but as soon as I arrived the truth dawned on me. City were 2-0 down and Chris and Lofty had taken refuge in the clubhouse. It was fair to say that Guildford had not covered themselves in glory in the first half. True they were without two of their best players – both Dan Dunning and Dan Rice watching the match from the sidelines with various ailments – and apparently had been reasonably competitive in the middle of the park, however they had not managed to carve out any chances and had won just one corner. The first goal came in the 22nd minute, apparently as a result of the pacey counter-attacking which was to bedevil City all afternoon. The ball was taken to the byline and crossed across the face of goal, completely bamboozling the Guildford defence and enabling the Colliers Wood striker, Hinga Amara to tap in at the far post. Five minutes from halftime came the second, City losing the ball in the midfield, allowing Amara to calmly slot the ball home. This did not bode well and most of the visiting fans knew in their heart of hearts that their team would not get anything from the match.
Halftime couldn’t arrive quickly enough and at the very least it enabled me to get an excellent baguette from the clubhouse and introduce Guildford City’s lucky charm to Chris, Lofty and Moaning Tone –a purple dog with yellow ears and a home made waistcoat in Guildford colours. I managed to lose this strange looking creature during the second half and spent quite a while looking for it (even searching a doll’s pram belonging to a little girl – oh the shame!) before I was reminded that I had actually handed it to Roz to look after. Such absent-mindedness must have been due to the shock of what was happening on the pitch…..
The second half kicked off and I watched it from the balcony of the clubhouse with Moaning Tone. It quickly became clear that nothing was going to save City from an ignominious defeat. As early as the 48th minute the visitors were dicing with death, Dave Tidy under hitting a clearance so that it fell to an opposition player who really should have scored. A minute later came the third goal, Craig Moore losing possession in the middle of the park, allowing Colliers Wood to surge up the pitch and pass the ball around the static City defenders before Phil Hughes tapped in at the far post. Guildford were now playing for pride, with Andy Lunn urging them not to give in from the sidelines. There was little they could do about the 4th goal however. In the 57th minute, Hinga Amara, ever the thorn in City’s side, turned provider, storming down the pitch before laying the ball off to Niall Wynne who chipped a beautiful shot over Dave Tidy and into the top corner. Five minutes later the home side could have notched again, but somehow the forward sliced his shot wide of the post from barely 6 yards out. Colliers Wood seemed to have barely broken a sweat and were clearly taking all three points so what happened in the 65th minute was completely puzzling. Shane Duffell flew in to tackle Mark Longley. While he was still on the floor however, Longley stamped on his chest, right in front of the referee and the clubhouse, earning outrage from City fans and the bench. There was no question of it being a straight red, and what a stupid (and dangerous) way to get sent off. Shane luckily was ok and was able to finish the game.
If City thought their lives were about to get easier and they could restore a bit of respectability to the scoreline they were sadly mistaken. They did however manage to notch an effort on goal, Andy Wylde heading weakly straight at the keeper a minute after the sending off. Indeed they appeared to be getting a bit more of the ball, but this greater attacking threat came at the expense of cover at the back as more men were pushed forward. In the 69th minute a City attack broke down, allowing Amana to power into the box and lay the ball off. The shot would have been goalbound had it not been for an excellent last ditch tackle by Liam Alleyne. The home side kept pressing forward and it was inevitable that they would extend their lead. In the 73rd minute Anton Halliwell pushed a player in the back in the penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot. Amara stepped up and sealed his hat trick by sending the keeper the wrong way. Guildford had been holding on up until now but the 5th goal signalled a collapse of sorts. The home side were now passing the ball around the City defence and attacking at will. Their 6th goal came in the 80th minute as a result of another breakaway and it was an easy task for Danny Cormack to slot home at the far post. Two minutes later he scored almost a carbon copy with the Guildford players appearing to be frozen in a state of shock. The home side could have notched an 8th goal in the 87th minute but luckily Dave Tidy was on hand to gather the ball before the onrushing forward could get to it. After their mini collapse, Guildford did at least finish the game on the front foot, Simon Sheppard’s shot from outside the area being deflected for a corner which was inevitably cleared.
In the words of Yazz and the Plastic Population ‘The only way is up’. Let’s hope City’s season doesn’t get any worse than today’s performance. Many more displays like this and Guildford will be competing in CCL Division One next season.
COLLIERS WOOD: T. Oval; M. Hudson; M. Beard; A. Bacon; S. Mead; N. Wynne; D. Taylor; P. Hughes (sub D, Cormack, 63); M. Longley; H. Amara; D. Hughes (sub T. Abbey, 67)
Subs not used: None
GUILDFORD CITY: D. Tidy; K. Philpott; A. Wylde; M. Martin; S. Duffell; C. Emery (sub A. Halliwell, 63); S. Sheppard; C. Moore; C. Duffell; G, Levene; A. Azeem (sub L. Alleyne, 45)
Subs not used: R. Lunn