HMMMM this is getting a bit like Groundhog Day – conceding 2 goals on the first day of the season before losing 4-0 at home, sound familiar to last season? Still, after City’s spirited, if ultimately unsuccessful attempt to get something on Saturday, we were all hoping for a bit more from this match. It was not to be though as Guildford crashed 4-0 against a side they spectacularly beat just 5 months ago. Nothing seemed to go right as they conceded early in the first half and then squandered a number of chances. A second goal for the visitors was followed by the sending off of Tony Chaplin and Ben Burgess after the two got into a scuffle. Things went from bad to worse in the second half as City worked promisingly but ultimately ineffectively to get onto the scoresheet yet allowed the Fizzers to notch two more in the process.
The day of this game meant lots of work for the Guildford City committee as they strived to make sure the Spectrum pitch could be played on after a summer of use for athletics (and some might say, neglect). New vice chairman Chris Pegman did an admirable job, however, in resolving the concerns of the officials and the ground was finally deemed fit to play. The whole committee then went into overdrive trying to get done the 101 matchday jobs completed. All said quite a few mistakes were made but we managed to struggle through the evening.
City lined up in an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation, Roly, the assistant manager having guessed that Sandhurst’s new signings would give City a torrid time unless they were marked to the gunwales. It quickly became clear that this tactic was not working, however, as both Cory Knight and Graham Tydeman got sucked too high up the pitch, leaving the home side critically exposed. It certainly did not take long for the Fizzers to get their noses in front – the ever lively Simmonds tearing into the box and slotting past the helpless Smelt. This setback seemed to wake City from their torpor however and at last they began to look like a half decent side, the ball being passed more fluently and Sandhurst being posed some problems. Indeed Guildford really should have scored on the half hour mark – Cory Knight rising unmarked but heading the ball well wide of the post. More chances came the home side’s way – a corner being claimed by Fizzer custodian Asan Agov and then Jamie King heading straight into the mitts of the keeper.
However just when things seemed to be looking more positive, the visitors landed a second blow – Simmonds once again taking on the City defence before firing an exquisite shot along the ground which curled past the out-stretched hand of Jack Smelt (drafted in at the last minute as a replacement for Hall). Surely things could not get any worse? No they actually could – Chaplin reacted to a the Sandhurst defender, Ben Burgess by hitting out at him and his opponent returned the compliment – the result? Both players sent off. Luckily the referee blew for half time moments later.
The break was spent chatting to members of the Sandhurst committee and introducing my friend Peter, who I had invited down for the evening, to all the City fans. I think it is fair to say he was a little shocked at the defensive frailty of the home side but all in all (once he had had a bottle of TEA) I think he enjoyed himself!! All too quickly though the players were out on the pitch once again and the second half was ready to start.
Guildford had come back from 2-0 down in their last game against Sandhurst but somehow there didn’t seem much prospect of this happening again. The Fizzers were quickly on the attack as soon as the whistle blew – Danny Wilde trying his luck from distance with a decent looking shot in the 51st minute – before Guildford shut up shop and tried desperately to provide some service to their forwards. They were only delaying the inevitable however and in the 62nd minute it duly came – Johnny Fisk beating the offside trap and putting the ball easily past Smelt. In desperation, Kevin Rayner tried shuffling his pack, bringing on pacey new signing Gabriel Adesina to try and drag his side back into the game.
Guildford did actually start to look a little more dangerous at this point – a well worked move releasing Bridgeman but his cross went straight into the keeper’s arms. The Guildford wide-man was in action again in the 72nd minute, finally finding some space and advancing dangerously on goal: his shot however was disappointingly high and wide. Minutes later the home side had another chance, an indirect freekick being given on the edge of the box, however Jamie King’s shot went wide of the upright. Astonishingly Guildford managed to squander a fourth decent chance just moments later – another freekick being won but then blasted into the stratosphere. As if this wasn’t depressing enough, Sandhurst then got on the scoresheet again – Fisk tearing down the right wing, beating his marker and then firing clinically into the top corner of the net with another impressive strike. There was still some twelve minutes left to play but neither side showed the stomach to make any further attacks and the match petered out. Let’s hope for a better performance in the FA Cup on Saturday.
GUILDFORD CITY: Jack Smelt; G. Tydeman (sub J. Turner, 69); C. Knight; T. Penson; J. Thoroughgood; Elvis Defreitas; T. Chaplin; B. Rayner (sub P. Gough, 74); Jamie King; A. Bridgeman (sub Gabriel Adesina, 64); H. Carnegie
Subs not used: K. Tracey; T. Arnold
Booked: B. Rayner
Sent off: T. Chaplin
SANDHURST TOWN: A. Agov; D. Wilson; B. Williams; R. Hogston; B. Burgess; D. Blake; J. Fisk; G. Nesbitt (sub D. Perks, 37); J. Mepham (sub, M. Hopton, 61); D. Simmonds (sub S. Dennison, 78); D. Wilde
Subs not used: G. Stokes; M. Weston
Sent off: B. Burgess
Referee: W. Ingram