CITY got back to winning ways in the league with this convincing victory over struggling Banstead Athletic. In truth the visitors were never really in this game as Guildford attacked with purpose and pace. Crucially they also put away their chances. Danny Elgar opened the scoring after just 4 minutes and Sean Rivers sealed the win with a tap-in and a penalty in the second half. Our pulses were set slightly racing when Banstead pulled a goal back but they did not have enough in the tank to really threaten City’s lead.
We all converged on the Spectrum for our umpteenth home game this season. Incredibly, after a 2 game break for a holiday, I found the new students still coming along to watch. This after what I have been reliably informed was one of the worst games of football ever, in the cup on Wednesday. They must be keen!
Guildford started the game well and Rivers really should have done better in the opening minute – heading wide from a freekick. It didn’t matter though because a few minutes later we were ahead. Danny Elgar received the ball on the left corner of the box and was forced to run along the edge of the area. He swiftly beat his man however, made some space and fired the ball home clinically – much to the delight of the home fans. Guildford continued to look the better team and seemed dangerous whenever they got the ball. In the 18th minute they won a freekick on the edge of the Banstead area which Ben Rayner was only able to fire into the mitts of their keeper – former City gaffer, Dave Tidy. A minute later came another freekick – Jamie King’s header being easily claimed this time round. The pressure continued and in the 24th minute Jamie Thoroughgood made a good run to the halfway line and then unleashed a terrific raking crossfield ball which must have travelled some 50 or 60 yards before landing perfectly in the path of Gabriel Adesina. Gabby beat his man and ran to the byline, eventually winning a corner which unfortunately could not be capitalised on.
After their terrible start, the visitors started to find their feet, although they really were creating only half chances. On the half hour mark, Prendergast tried his luck, turning and shooting well over the bar from the edge of the box. A minute later the visitors had another go but a well hit curling shot was held by Hall. It wasn’t long before the home side were on the attack again – Adesina once again beating the Banstead defence with ease, and firing on goal. The shot was kicked out but hit Bridgeman who had run up in support and rolled just wide of the post for a goalkick. More possession followed for City and some good attacking moves but the final ball was not quite good enough. The half concluded with an acrobatic punch behind from Hall after a short period of pressure from the As before Adesina launched an exocet from some 35 yards out which went just over the bar.
The whistle blew and for me it meant a stint helping Ros out in the snackbar – Jo the usual server, not being able to make it this time. So many mugs of Bovril were sold, I couldn’t believe it! I always think it’s like drinking gravy! Matt Brown’s no show due to being ‘hungover’ was also a subject of much amusement and a suggestion was put that I create a fake reference to him streaking across the pitch during this game. Hmmm, maybe I’ll hold that one in reserve….
The second half began and Banstead had clearly decided on a Plan B, making a double substitution within the first 5 minutes. It was to little avail however and within a minute Guildford were 2-0 up. A superb run down the right wing by Anthony Bridgeman proved too much for the As’ defenders and Bridgey reached the byline before knocking a slide-rule pass to Rivers at the near post. It was a simple matter for the completely unmarked City striker to fire the ball home. At last the visitors responded and started to look a lot more dangerous. A great cross on the hour mark was only just cut out by Guildford’s defence and moments later Chris Barns hit a powerful shot which flew into the hands of Hall. The recovery was short-lived however as Adesina soon went on another blistering run and was tripped in the area by David Hawkins. Rivers, City’s top scorer and penalty specialist – he has now scored 6 from 6 attempts in the last 8 matches – stepped up and fired the spot kick home comfortably.
Banstead understandably threw caution to the wind at this point and started putting Guildford under pressure. In the 65th minute a long ball into the box was hit vertically into the air by Elvis Defreitas with As players running in from all sides. It was no problem for Hall however, who ran out of his box, jumped into the air and volleyed the ball into touch. Very impressive! The visitors continued to press, winning a freekick on the byline which ping-ponged around the penalty area and went behind for a corner – City’s defence clearing the resulting set piece. Moments later a pacey run down the wing and into the City box produced a powerful shot which Hall held well. Eventually the As got the goal their play deserved, the ball being crossed into the box from City’s right and finding Adrian Greenland completely unmarked some 6 yards out. The midfielder made no mistake, firing easily into the open net.
For any other team a 2 goal lead with barely 15 minutes to go should not have been a cause for panic, but it was for the City fans!! Suddenly we got a little nervous as Banstead continued to dominate possession. Tempers frayed on the pitch too and Simon Cooper had a ‘handbags’ type encounter with an opposition forward shortly after pulling off an impressive block to prevent the ball being launched into the penalty area. We were a bit puzzled when the referee only booked Simon but at least the Guildford defender was still on the pitch. The corner was cleared before Hall held a well struck freekick from the edge of the area. The As then nearly notched a goal courtesy of a Guildford defender as he volleyed a cross behind but inches wide of the far post – yet again though Banstead could not convert the corner.
The time was ticking down and we started to believe that City really could grab those much needed 3 points. The bulk of the chances were still falling to the visitors though – despite a goal for Lance which was ruled out for offside. In the 86th minute Hall pushed a deflected shot from outside the area, behind for another corner. He had only a fraction of a second to realign himself after the flight of the ball was changed so it truly was an excellent save. Guildford lived to fight another day and with Banstead seemingly spent, started to push forward again. Carnegie nearly scored a spectacular solo effort after running from the halfway line – his shot went just wide of the near post however with Lance unmarked to his right. Meanwhile Bridgeman created a hugely comic moment just before the end, leaping acrobatically to head the ball into touch but his momentum caused him to crash into the dugout – luckily without injury.
The game concluded with a needless yellow card for Lance – the City striker kicking the ball away in frustration after a late offside flag – and most bizarrely of all, Harrison Carnegie being adjudged offside with some 3 opposition players between him and the goal! Still forget the quality, feel the points.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; E. Defreitas (T. Arnold, 83); C. Knight; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; A. Bridgeman; B. Rayner; S. Rivers (L. Banton-Brown, 69); G. Adesina (H. Carnegie, 69); D. Elgar
Subs not used: J. Turner; L. Bradnick
Booked: C. Knight; S. Cooper; L. Banton-Brown
BANSTEAD ATHLETIC: D. Tidy; A. Paterson; T. Howton; S. Langley; J. Sims (D. Woods, 49); D. Hawkins (D. Laverick, 66); A. John; C. Barns; J. Kennedy (A. Greenland, 49); C. Prendergast; S. Sinclair
Subs not used: M. Rouse; R. White
Booked: T. Howton
Referee: C. Readett