YET again City found themselves on the end of a terrible refereeing decision in this frustrating game. The first half was reasonably uneventful with the home side shading the play but with chances on goal being at a premium. Guildford improved drastically in the second half however, and were extremely unlucky to have a penalty awarded against them on the hour mark. As so often this season, going a goal down caused a collapse in confidence and City handed the home side an extremely flattering final scoreline.
Sir Lagerlot had been building this game up on the messageboard as key to City’s survival hopes and as a result brought his brother and his family down to try and lend Guildford as much support as possible. He was also going to a fancy dress party straight afterwards so attended the game dressed as Vivian from the Young Ones which was extremely amusing for everyone. The pièce de résistance was his t-shirt emblazoned with the slogan ‘Never mind the b****** we’re Guildford City’ as per the design of the famous Sex Pistols album. Genius.
While Sir Lagerlot was wending his way to Cherrywood Road (the ground shared by Badshot Lea with owners Farnborough FC) Mr Pegman, Lofty and I were sampling some of ‘Borough’s finest drinking establishments and generally talking nonsense as usual. After a mini pubcrawl we arrived at the clubhouse and found it packed out – if only City had something which could compare to that! A third group were also attempting to get to the game – the students. However they had been directed to Badshot Lea’s old ground by a dodgy website and ended up having a day out in Aldershot – what a lovely experience that must have been, still probably a lot less stressful than ours!!
Anyway those of us that had made it, congregated near the opposition goal and the match was up and running. City made a good start and in the 9th minute carved out a half chance – Simon Sheppard playing as wingback firing a shot on goal from the edge of the box which was well held by Pat Kinsella, the Badshot custodian. Minutes later the home side also forged a chance which they similarly could not convert. On the quarter hour mark the Badshot managed to breach Guildford’s defence once again (although calls of ‘offside’ echoed round the ground) but the shot was blocked and marshalled to safety by a Guildford defender. The match settled down for five minutes or so before a City defender nearly gifted Badshot Lea their opening goal – a suicidal backpass being sent to Jack Smelt across the face of goal but James Hinchin being somehow unable to shoot on target.
The visitors responded well to this let off and John Hamsher began to get stuck in, firing an impressive cross in the 23rd minute which didn’t quite reach Joe Loyza and was eventually cleared by the home side. The next fifteen minutes or so really were quite tedious with neither side even remotely looking like scoring – City finally tightening up their back line but lacking the cutting edge up front to exploit their opportunities and Badshot’s strikers getting caught offside and generally frustrated by their opponents. The match sprang back into life five minutes from the end however with Jack Smelt pulling off two absolutely top notch saves, tipping a shot over the bar in the 42nd minute and then doing the same moments later when the home side fired a dipping, swerving long range shot towards goal. The half finished with Craig Moore making his way to the sidelines having caught a ball or an elbow in the eye – we could already see he would have quite a nice shiner to show off!
Halftime was largely uneventful although I did win an Easter egg in the raffle, after one of the committee members tracked me down at the bar! I think there were some very miffed home fans but fair’s fair! Having chatted to Tony about his views on the half (needless to say he was moaning!) I joined Lofty in the bar and discovered that I could watch the rest of the game from there with a pint in my hand! In retrospect maybe Guildford could have been inspired to win if a few more City fans had not had the same idea as me. A lesson learned I think.
The second half kicked off and it was the visitors who started in the ascendancy – firing a shot which Kinsella could only beat out with his fists. Minutes later another chance presented itself, the impressive Joe Loyza going through on goal but having his effort saved by the keeper. Things were looking up for City so it was typical of their luck this season that an innocuous challenge in the box from a Guildford player caused the referee to blow his whistle and point to the penalty spot. The Badshot Lea chairman told me afterwards that the referee’s assessor wrote ‘very harsh penalty’ in his notes as soon as the decision was made and even he had to admit we had had pretty rough justice. Good as Jack Smelt is, he could not prevent Hinchin scoring with a clinical penalty into the bottom corner and suddenly Guildford‘s heads started to drop.
The home side started to reassert themselves and Guildford’s defence started to be stretched. City did not give in however and managed to hold off the worst Badshot Lea could throw at them for some time, although Smelt was forced into a good save in the 70th minute after a Badshot striker managed to beat the offside trap. The problem was the visitors just did not look like they had the belief to score at the other end, despite proving they could match their opponents barely twenty minutes before. Although they fortunately managed to scramble a corner clear in the 76th minute, there was a sad inevitability when City conceded their second with just six minutes to go – Hinchin slotting away a rebound after a good save from Smelt. As if this wasn’t bad enough, the home side stretched their lead still further with pretty much the last kick of the game, Matt Griffiths ghosting in to the box to finish from a corner. There was little more to do than to head back to the bar and try and work out just what is going wrong with our beloved club at the moment.
BADSHOT LEA: P. Kinsella; A. Payne; B. Hill; D. Griffiths; M. Smith; M. Griffiths; N. Sowden (sub B. Cobbett, 87); C. Hamilton (sub R. Westell, 72); D. Blake; J. Hinchin; E. Cardona (sub D. Bailey, 72)
Subs not used: None
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Smelt; S. Sheppard; A. Arnold; A. Smillie (sub Jamie Buckley, 72); D.Annon; C. Moore; J. Hamsher; L. Passmore; Nathan Parkinson (sub Neil Parkinson, 72); J. Loyza; A. Azeem (sub N. Farquharson, 72)
Subs not used: None