GUILDFORD experienced their own St Valentine’s Day massacre in this extremely disappointing performance against a side they famously beat 3-2 earlier in the season. Ten minutes of madness in the first half was enough to turn a match which had appeared to be quite an intriguing contest into another home thumping and add to a goal difference which is now almost certainly the worst in the league.
This match enjoyed quite a good turnout with Camberley bringing a good number down and the weather improving attendance still further. A good number of students came along and there seemed a generally optimistic mood among the home fans that City could build on their impressive performance against league leaders Bedfont Green in the previous fixture (thanks to the snow – that had been 2 weeks before!) Unfortunately the tannoy system had been taken off line by some over-zealous council safety inspectors re-arranging the carefully positioned plugs, so with most of my job now redundant I dashed around raising money for the club through the Golden Goal contest – the eventual winner being everyone’s best friend when he went to the snack bar!
The game kicked off, and it has to be said that it was the home side who started more impressively, moving the ball around and eking out some chances. Simon Sheppard was playing up front yet again and causing the defenders problems with his pace and control. It was he who had the first good chance around the 10 minute mark – firing low on goal from just outside the 6 yard box, the keeper having to dive to his left to get to the ball. This was about as good as the game got for City as 5 minutes later, Aneel Azeem was on the floor requiring treatment – all the City fans praying he was not about to be put out of action for yet another lengthy spell. As it was he was ok after being treated on the sideline but the incident had clearly distracted the home side and they seemed still half asleep when John Finnieston was played through to coolly slot the ball past the helpless Jack Smelt.
Conceding early in the game was a disappointing but not disastrous occurrence and we expected Guildford to come back strongly. Unfortunately this just did not happen with the City defence being extremely immobile and unable to pick up the runners – particularly the impressive Gavin Muir who was to torment them for the rest of the game. In the 34th minute the second blow was landed – a freekick on the edge of the Guildford box being played short but somehow behind the defence and the ball being laid off to Finnieston who ran onto it and notched his second to make it 2-0. Despite the impressive come back from just such a deficit at Krooner Park back in November, the home side’s heads started to drop and the visitors began to create chances almost at will. This was when the damage was done and the game was ended as a competitive contest. The third goal was not long in coming – Camberley won a corner moments later and the ball was pulled back to Julian Sills who was lurking apparently unmarked on the edge of the 6 yard box and finished clinically past Smelt. Unbelievably the fourth goal followed from the kick off – Guildford losing possession almost immediately and Sills, yet again had another easy finish. At least there were some City players not lying down and waiting for the inevitable and undoubtedly Guildford’s Man of the Match was Simon Sheppard who ran tirelessly trying to give his side something to take away from the game. In the 43rd minute he forged a good chance, running through and shooting at Liam Stone in the Camberley goal who held the shot. He could not delay the inevitable however and the 5th goal followed immediately after – the ball yet again being played through Guildford’s non existent defence to Finnieston who completed his hat trick with a flourish.
There was much for the Guildford fans to gloomily mull over at half time, including the horrible prospect of the 7-0 defeat at Colliers Wood being equalled or even exceeded. Certainly my friend Tom, at his first home game in quite some time, was in no doubt of this, although he did concede that the Krooners may take their foot off the pedal a bit in the 2nd half and save us from further embarrassment. Anyway to take our minds of the game, Tom and I retired to the club room for a beer and met a guy and his son who were fans of the north Devon side Ilfracombe Town in the Toolstation Western League. Apparently it had been his ambition to come and watch Guildford City for years – oh dear, careful what you wish for….
The match restarted with City making some hasty substitutions in a bid to save the side from further punishment. Amazingly, Simon Sheppard was moved to right back – a clear statement that this was a damage limitation exercise on the part of Dave Tidy. Predictably the first 15 minutes of the game were pretty much all Camberley as they greedily sought to add to their tally. Jack Smelt was as usual very impressive between the sticks and pulled off an amazing double save in the 56th minute, diving to his left to smother the ball and then tipping a shot bound for the back of the net over the bar, after a corner on the hour mark. At this point the home side suddenly found themselves with a bit more possession and at last they started to play like they had done at the start of the match – Anthony Vine being put through in the 63rd minute but being unable to trouble Stone with his shot. Back came the visitors though, winning a freekick near the dead ball line a few minutes later. A shot was looped into the box but luckily for Guildford the Camberley player on the end of it, shot over.
City continued undaunted, desperate to try and salvage some pride from the game by pulling back a goal or two. Joe Loyza, who had been so disappointing in the first half, was started to find his feet again, holding the ball up well and allowing Nathan Parkinson to go through in the 84th minute – unfortunately his shot was well held by the keeper. By this point the visitors appeared to be going through the motions although they did eke out one more chance before full time – Muir yet again breaking free of his markers but Smelt holding his shot comfortably.
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Smelt; A. Arnold; M. Burns (sub Z. Hussain, 47); A. Smillie; C. Saundercock; C. Moore (sub N. Parkinson, 47); A. Vine; L. Passmore; S. Sheppard; J. Loyza; A. Azeem (sub R. O’Sullivan, 62)
Subs not used: J. Hamsher
CAMBERLEY TOWN: L. Stone; D. Webb (sub M. Squires, 45); I. Messenger; J. Sills (sub J. Johnson, 45); D. Barnard; J. Hoppitt; J. Swift; D. Ker; G. Muir; J. Finnieston (sub A. Cornell, 45); S. Davies
Subs not used: N. Sayers; J. Brazil