GUILDFORD took all the points in this far from straightforward encounter with bottom placed Wembley. Indeed the Middlesex club well and truly battered their Surrey opponents in the opening half hour, winning and missing a penalty and then conceding against the run of play courtesy of a well taken Rivers header. The home side recovered and went ahead just before halftime – Carnegie heading home from a well worked corner. The second half was just as frenetic with Guildford doing everything but score before King gave them some breathing space with yet another headed goal. There was the customary wobble from City as the Lions pulled one back with 10 minutes to go but Guildford held on to take all three points.
Wembley started the match impressively and within the first 10 minutes won a penalty after a clumsy challenge in the box. The spot kick was well taken but Hall guess correctly and clawed the ball behind for a corner which was well cleared. Guildford did not heed the warnings and continued to be put under the cosh from a side which looked far from relegation fodder. Still, Harrison Carnegie did manage to head just wide in the 11th minute, prior to a spectacular attempt from the visitors, an overhead kick landing harmlessly in Hall’s arms. The Lions continued to press however and it seemed only a matter of time before they converted one of their chances. What a surprise then when City went 1-0 up in the 21st minute – Danny Elgar made one of his tricky runs, making space for himself before firing a perfect cross into the box which Rivers flicked imperiously into the back of the net. Rivers then tried to the same from a City freekick but this time Power-Simpson in the Wembley goal was equal to the attempt.
The visitors kept coming forward and really should have scored on the half hour mark. The ball was crossed into the box and Antony Hall spilled it. Somehow a Wembley player did not connect in time to put it into the open net. City’s elation was shortlived as Wembley’s players finally found their scoring boots a few minutes later. A superb run down the home side’s left wing led to a perfect low cross to Glenn Garner at the near post who cleverly volleyed the ball across his body and into the net. Wembley appeared to have the game for the taking but they faded a little at this point and suddenly Guildford started to have more possession. Moves started to be put together, initially with little end product but looking increasingly promising as the minutes wore on. Both King and Elgar drove wide before City won a corner, 2 minutes from half time. The ball was taken short to a player who nipped in to the near post and sent a perfect cross onto the forehead of Harrison Carnegie who had crept in unmarked – his header crashing into the back of the net. A perfect training ground goal had given Guildford the lead once again. Wembley were rattled and City could have scored from a dodgy backpass a few moments later. They went even closer when Danny Elgar unleashed a ferocious shot from the edge of the area which beat the keeper but smacked back off the crossbar. The half concluded with a City freekick being headed to the keeper.
The first half had been played at a frantic pace and none of us expected either side to be able to play at the same tempo for the second period. How wrong we were. Guildford picked up where they left off in the first half, although Wembley had clearly regained their composure and were still looking dangerous on the counter-attack. Indeed it was the visitors who had an early opportunity, winning a freekick on the byline in the 50th minute which was easily claimed by Hall. For the next 20 minutes or so though it was all City, as Guildford contrived to do everything but score – indeed Sean Rivers amazingly hit the woodwork 3 times in 3 minutes. To be fair he should have been credited with a goal in the 59th minute when he hit the bar with a header and the ball bounced vertically down, appearing to cross the line. The linesman was no-where near unfortunately and no goal could be given. Seconds later the City striker got his head onto a perfect Liam Harwood cross but yet again hit the bar. As if things could not get any more excruciating, Rivers was soon on the attack again and this time lofted the ball over the keeper but straight against the post.
The home side still had the lead but we all thought East Preston syndrome was about to strike again. The visitors did not take advantage of their let-offs however and in the 67th minute Stephen Ntesa was sent off after a terrible challenge on the last man during another attack. As he had almost broken Cory Knight’s leg a few minutes before we saw this as long overdue justice. Heads dropped among the Lions and City finally took advantage, winning a corner which Ben Rayner curled perfectly for Jamie King to head home. The flood gates opened briefly once again and substitute Gabriel Adesina was unlucky not to increase the lead after being put through – Power Simpson just getting his fingertips to a good shot. Inevitably though it was Wembley who were celebrating 4 minutes later after catching City with a sucker punch – tearing down the Guildford right, before beating Hall on the byline and allowing Richard Manuwa an easy tap in. Guildford responded but squandered yet another one-on-one chance.
Suddenly it was Wembley who looked dangerous and we all started to get a bit nervous. City kept conceding freekicks in the final ten minutes and almost paid the price. They were extremely lucky in the 88th minute, a viscious shot deflecting off the wall, and just being kept out by the fingertips of Hall. The pressure was at least creating gaps at the back and Luke Bradnick should have done better with a one-on-one in the dying moments of the game – the ball being struck straight at the keeper and cleared. Somehow City hung on though to take all three points and climb to 11th in the table.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; L. Harwood; J. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; C. Knight (T. Arnold, 62); B. Rayner (L. Bradnick, 90+3); S. Rivers; H. Carnegie (G. Adesina, 75); D. Elgar
Subs not used: A. Ducran
Booked: T. Penson; B. Rayner; S. Rivers
WEMBLEY: M. Power-Simpson; S. Ntesa; J. Burgess; C. Carroll; R. Manuwa; J. Parker; I. Bates; G. Garner (J. Okunowo, 62); J. Walker; J. Mitchell; L. Guentchev
Subs: A. Rouse; J. Dalton-Brown; M. Black; D. Clinton
Booked: G. Garner
Sent off: S. Ntesa
Referee: F. Collins