GUILDFORD made hard work of this match against lower league opposition. Indeed for the first half City were second best as Knaphill’s passing and movement left the home side chasing shadows. They deservedly conceded in the first half courtesy of a fine Matt Baker finish and could easily have gone in at the break 2 or even 3 nil down. The second half was a different matter as City took control and finally equalised courtesy of Sean Rivers. Neither side could avoid extra time but it was Guildford who sealed their place in the next round – Banton-Brown firing home in the first period.
Midweek home games continue to provide their fair share of stress – particularly when illness takes its toll of matchday volunteers. Such was the problem for this game as both Chris and Brian had to call in sick. Luckily we were able to just about cope without them, although I managed to fall down the slope at the top of the ground whilst carrying a shed-load of kit!! We were pleased to welcome back some former Guildford City players in the form of Vic Flynn and Matty Edwards – both of whom started for the visitors.
Guildford began the match brightly, pressurising the CCL Division 1 side almost from the off and hooking the ball wide of goal after a scramble in the box in the first minute. Things went rapidly downhill from here however, as Knaphill, who were unlucky not to secure a top three place last season, passed them off the park. Almost every attack seemed to cut City’s defence to ribbons although to be fair, Kevin had been forced to put two forwards in the centre of midfield – Rivers and Bridgeman. Tom Penson was feeling the pressure down the right wing and was lucky not to get booked when he took out an onrushing forward in the 10th minute. Two minutes later, after being caught offside, the Knappers again came forward and this time sent a player clear with no flag. Hall came out but was wrong footed leaving the goal gaping but somehow the ball was hoofed well over the bar. This let off was to no avail however and City continued to look ragged, conceding several corners. After a few close calls, their luck ran out in the 31st minute – Matt Baker finishing clinically from the edge of the box. We could not say Knaphill did not deserve it.
Was this the wake-up call Guildford needed? Not really. Knaphill, sensed more blood and could have notched another just minutes after the goal but for a superb block tackle by a City defender. A change of tack was needed and Guildford started to try long balls in a bid to use the pace of Harrison and Lance but without success. They did finally start to test the keeper however, heading into Nick Rogers’s mitts from a corner and then, after a fine pass from Lance, Harrison firing a deflected shot just wide – the corner being cleared to safety. The half concluded with more chances for the visitors – gaining a dubious no-offside decision in the 43rd minute prior to Hall pulling off a superb point blank save. Moments later a pacey run to the byline ended in a shot being well held by the Guildford stopper.
We trooped into the club rooms at the break, trying not to feel too depressed about the poor performance. Unbelievably there were a large number of students at the game – still not driven away by the bad football!! Certain members of the group were cheered by good half time scores for Chelsea and a win for Man Utd but there was little to say about Guildford.
We can only imagine what Kevin said to his troops at halftime but they emerged fired up for the second half. Both Banton-Brown and Elgar went close in the opening minutes – the latter with an audacious lob which didn’t quite come off. Bridgey then went on a superb run, bamboozling defenders and appearing to advance into the box before being brought down. The referee blew for a foul – a penalty surely? No he gave a freekick right on the edge of the box much to everyone’s annoyance, which Lance could only fire over the bar. Knaphill responded and Hall made a fine judgment in not trying to stop a shot which ended up being flashed just an inch or so wide of the post. City then brought Chaplin on for Bradnick in the first substitution of the game for either side. Unfortunately the Guildford defender’s first action was to go in two footed on a player – earning him a rather fortunate yellow card.
The momentum was building however with both Lance and Harrison finding space and causing problems for the visitors. In the 69th minute, Danny Elgar, continuing to look impressive down the left wing, slipped the ball to Bridgey in the box who fired just wide. Knaphill responded and started stitching together some impressive short passes. We would have applauded if this had resulted in a goal a la Argentina in the 2006 World Cup; and it would have done had Hall not turned the resulting shot behind with another excellent save. Guildford once again took control of possession however, heading wide from a corner before Hall was nearly lobbed after coming to clear a hoofed ball down the pitch. At last the breakthrough came however, a freekick won near the edge of the area and Lance meeting it with an exquisite header which the keeper could only spill into the path of Rivers who fired it home. Guildford proceeded to dominate the remainder of the half but without being able to notch the killer goal. They had a strike disallowed for offside, shortly before Lance was sent clear but could not get the ball under control.
And so the game went to extra time. The home side were by this point completely in control of the match – whether due to superior fitness or the momentum from the equaliser – and they quickly won a corner. The visitors responded with a cross which was easily held by Hall before Adesina appeared to be held back from connecting with a Banton-Brown cross in the penalty area – again there was no spot kick. Finally Guildford got the goal their pressure had deserved – Lance being sent clear and this time firing clinically into the top corner from close range. The second period was all City and they could have scored more. A brilliant short corner in the 108th minute brought an excellent header from Adesina which the Knappers keeper only just got to. A further City header was held and a Banton-Brown shot fired just wide before the whistle blew for the end of the tie.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; T. Arnold (C. Knight, 79); S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; A. Bridgeman (G. Adesina, 97); L. Bradnick (T. Chaplin, 57); S. Rivers; L. Banton-Brown; H. Carnegie; D. Elgar
Subs not used: A. Ducran; J. Campbell
Booked: A. Hall; T. Chaplin
KNAPHILL: N. Rogers; S. Harvey; G. Brainch; N. Miles (B. Murphy, 113); V. Flynn; B. Cann; C. Fox; N. Darnell (T. Davis, 113); R. Hogsden; M. Baker; M. Edwards (G. Campbell, 113)
Subs not used: L. Fisher
Referee: L. Gordon