CITY once again clutched a dramatic win from the jaws of defeat in this pulsating encounter. Having been unfortunate to go 1-0 down mid way through the first half, Guildford threw everything at their opponents in their bid to get something from the game. In the end it took the introduction of new signing Joel Greaves to turn round City’s luck as he struck twice in quick succession to clutch victory with the last kick of the game.
There was a mood of general optimism among City fans prior to this game, due in part to the dramatic win over Sandhurst the previous week. Still, a point was all many dared hope for from this encounter against a side which thumped Dave Tidy’s Guildford side 5-1 earlier in the season. The turnout was not quite as good as for the last game – many students having to actually stay behind to do work (?!) while others were entertaining family members and didn’t want to ruin their evening by taking them to a Guildford game. Nevertheless there were enough of the Sweeney present to provide some backing to their team and counter the impressive vocals of the Molesey fans.
City started the match well and in the 8th minute won a freekick which Matt Nash, the Molesey keeper, did well to punch out of danger. However a minute later it was the visitors who notched the first decent effort on goal – a shot in the box rebounding to midfielder Liam O’Leary who spotted Jack Smelt off his line and attempted to chip him. It was a well judged effort but luckily a Guildford defender was on the line to clear the ball to safety. City counterattacked immediately, Danny Elgar trying his luck with an impressive long range shot which the keeper spilled; unfortunately none of his team mates were able to stick the ball away. The visitors were starting to get into their stride however and Guildford were gradually forced onto the back foot as the Molesey players pushed forward. And there was little surprise when the Moles broke the deadlock in the 20th minute – an impressive passing move involving 4 players culminating in an inch perfect ball to Lewis Ackerman. The striker made no mistake with a clinical finish past Smelt, which even ‘Moaning’ Tone had to admit was of the highest quality.
Oh dear. City fans were getting a sense of déjà vu here with more than one person commenting that we were unlikely to repeat the comeback of the previous week: ‘we used all our luck up against Sandhurst’ commented Mr Pegman. The remainder of the half was hugely frustrating as Guildford carved out half chances but without being able to capitalise. In the 33rd minute Tom Penson doing some good work down the right wing, sent in a cross which just eluded Harrison Carnegie. The Moles counter-attacked and may have added to their tally had it not been for the heroics of Graham Tydeman dispossessing Ackerman with a well judged tackle. The home side went on the offensive again though, desperate to get back into the game but yet again a cross into the box just missed the head of Carnegie, in the 39th minute. The half concluded with a chance for the visitors, a freekick being punched well clear by Jack Smelt.
Half time was spent with an obligatory beer in the club rooms (well us City fans are starting to need ways of calming our nerves). There was also a chance for me to finally meet ‘Brownie’, perhaps the authority on Guildford City history. ’Mystic’ Doug was also there which was probably a good omen since his first game of the season had coincided with our comeback from 2-0 down the previous week. Yet again he instructed us to ‘believe’! But even after the miracle of the previous week very few of us thought we could get something from the game.
The whistle blew for the second half and for the first fifteen minutes or so there seemed little to suggest City would be able to get the goal they so desperately needed. To be fair neither side were playing well and both midfields seemed to cancel each other out. It was on the hour mark (and perhaps as a result of the substitution of the injured Ackerman) that Guildford suddenly stepped up a gear and started forcing their opponents back into their own half. Finally chances started to come – Elgar hitting an impressive volley in the 62nd minute which went just wide of the post and three minutes later a superbly taken corner hit the bar before being hacked away by the Molesey defenders. In the 71st minute it was Carnegie’s turn to try his luck, firing an accurate long range shot into the keeper’s hands before Guildford won another corner moments later. Yet again they went close – a Jamie King header being pushed behind for another corner and Lance Banton-Brown firing over the bar from the edge of the box from the resulting set piece. Corey Knight, the Guildford left back, then had a go with a 25 yard effort which only just missed the far post.
The match had completely turned on its head – Molesey seemingly resolved to defend out the rest of the game but completely unable to clear their lines as Guildford took control of the midfield. Ultimately they had to take emergency action, making substitutions and changing their formation for 4-4-2 for the final ten minutes of the game but this only gave City more space. In the 80th minute Carnegie was released down the right, his pace taking him away from the defenders but unfortunately also from his team-mates and there was no-one there to finish when he expertly chipped the ball over the keeper to the far post. The Moles responded in the 81st minute, winning what Guildford fans viewed as a dubious freekick next to the byline, however this was easily cleared by the City defence. The match then pivoted on what happened in the next few minutes. First Elgar carved out another chance but could only shoot weakly at the keeper, however from the goalkick Molesey had the opportunity to wrap the game up – Paul Cross being put through and pulling the trigger with just Smelt to beat and the goal gaping. Somehow Jack got his fingertips to the ball to push it away for a throw-in and then gathered another shot comfortably. The action then moved back to the other end of the pitch and City were kicking themselves in the 87th minute when Nash tried to stop a backpass going out for a corner by stopping the ball on the byline but being carried several yards forward by his momentum leaving the ball and the goal unguarded but with Banton-Brown not quite able to get there in time. The ninety minutes were almost up but City kept up the pressure, winning a corner and then a foul on the edge of the Molesey box. Carnegie took the kick which appeared to be handled in the box but the ref waved play on and the home fans started to think that this wouldn’t be their day.
Yet still the whistle didn’t blow and in the first minute of injury time, the equaliser finally came. City won a corner and a good delivery forced Nash to punch the ball clear. Unfortunately it hit the back of one of his defenders and rebounded to Joel Greaves who stooped to head the ball over the line. A draw was more than enough for the home fans and they cheered wildly, hoping that their side could hold on for a point. Yet the visitors managed to concede possession almost from the kick off and the home side surged forward for one last attack. The ball found Greaves on the left wing and he tore into the box riding several challenges in the process. Somehow he still had the ball when he got to the edge of the 6 yard box and he expertly slotted the ball past the stunned Nash to make it 2-1 and seal a comeback every bit as impressive as the previous game. The City fans went wild chanting: ‘we love you Greavsie, we do!’ and ‘England’s number one!’ for the two players who more than any others had managed to turn defeat into victory. Three wins in a row – let’s hope Guildford can keep up the momentum.
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Smelt; G. Tydeman; C. Knight; T. Tydeman; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; T. Penson; T. Chaplin; L. Banton-Brown; H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (sub Joel Greaves, 63)
Subs not used: P. Gough; S. Knight; E. Massey
MOLESEY: M. Nash; A. Graves; M. Sherwin; J. Yeates; M. Spencer; S. Brown; S. Lampard; D. Coombes; M. Baxter (sub M. Jordan, 77); L. Ackerman (sub P. Cross, 61); L. O’Leary
Subs not used: R. Defoe; M. Hughes