GUILDFORD came so close to losing this supposedly easy encounter with bottom of the table Cobham. Indeed the Hammers were within ten minutes of an unlikely victory. If ever there was evidence of the importance of Joel Greaves to Guildford’s chances of survival this season then this was it – the striker missing a first half penalty but striking twice in the last ten minutes to put the visitors in front. Danny Elgar then applied the coup de grace with a superb solo effort from the edge of the box. With Bedfont losing and falling into the bottom three as a result, Saturday’s game between City and the Middlesex side assumes enormous significance.
First of all, I must come clean, I was not able to make it to this game having volunteered to help Mr Pegman and Mr May with the Guildford City stall at the Lions show on Shalford Park. So while the few hardcore Guildford fans prepared to drag themselves out to Cobham at 11 in the morning to watch their team I was unloading a variety of items onto our stall. Key among these was a five-a-side goal which we had borrowed from the Chelsea ‘football in the community’ programme and which Chris and Matt Howell had carefully disassembled the previous Saturday so it could be easily packed into my car. But could we put it back together? A working party of chimps would have done a better job as four of us struggled for the best part of 45 minutes to work out which pole should be slotted into where (steady…).
Finally we managed to put together a structure which vaguely resembled a goal but inexplicably had a section of the back of the net missing. “All the pieces were there when we took it apart on Saturday” puzzled Chris, “you must have lost a piece when you packed it into your car!!” Marvellous, I thought, I wonder whether I’ll have to pay £200 for a new goal! As it transpired there were no bits missing and I can only conclude that the crossbar had an extra section to it – still it made my job more of a challenge as a number of small children, intent on emulating Christiano Ronaldo fired shots at point blank range at me as I stood, terrified, between the sticks. No, contrary to what we hear on the news they were not taking pot shots at me with automatic weapons, pistols, self propelled mortars etc etc but attempting to score penalties. Meanwhile, Dennis and Chris hawked the Guildford City merchandise to all and sundry, the History of the club proving particularly popular.
But enough of my drivel, what was happening in the match, I hear you ask – this is after all supposed to be a MATCH report. Well, I was just coming to that….
The first contact came from Eddie (our spy at the game) after 40 minutes or so and it was not good news. The Hammers had taken the lead after 36 minutes after some very sloppy defending on Guildford’s part allowed Taylor to steal in and slot home. Worse still, moments later, Joel Greaves had contrived to miss a penalty after Lance Bantom-Brown was brought down in the box. Craig Moore had originally stepped up to take the spot kick but Greaves, insisted he could do it. The City striker stepped up and fired a shot which beat the keeper but rebounded off the post and was hooked to safety. There was some hope in that Guildford were controlling the play for the most part against a side who appeared to have even shorter players than they did (a sweeper and a centre forward were estimated at no taller than 5’2”, despite their ability as players) but yet again City’s profligacy in front of goal was threatening to be their downfall.
It has to be said that Eddie had also not been impressed by some of the decisions made by the referee – the self same individual who had so controversially disallowed City’s goal in the match on Saturday. Guildford were earning yellow cards left right and centre – many of which appeared to be massively unwarranted and finished the match on 6 to their opponents’ 1. Eddie went so far as to say that he had not seen such a biased and incompetent performance from a referee since a game at Joseph’s Road in 1963.
Despite the excellent weather at Shalford Park the news that we were a goal down really put a dampner on proceedings and we all nervously waited for news from Eddie. Eventually with about 15 minutes of the match to go I could take it no more and decided to go and buy the biggest, greasiest ‘fatboy’ burger I could find, hoping against hope that Eddie had agreed to contact us at the end of the match rather than if a goal was scored. As I tucked into my very own handheld coronary, I suddenly felt my phone ringing. Joel had finally levelled the scores – slotting away the ball after a goal mouth scramble, barely ten minutes from full time. In fact I got another call six minutes later to say Joel had scored once again – this time heading home to make it 2-1. The icing on the cake came in the 92nd minute – the ever impressive Danny Elgar, who had in fact come on as a substitute, scoring a glorious goal from the edge of the area to make it 3-1 and game over.
Roll on Saturday’s match against Bedfont – let’s hope City can do the business….
GUILDFORD CITY: J. Smelt; G. Tydeman; C. Knight (T. Penson); T. Tydeman; A. Simeone; C. Moore; H. Carnegie (D. Elgar); J. King;L. Banton-Brown; J. Greaves; A. Azeem (S. Sheppard)
Subs not used: P. Gough; E. Massey