As has happened so often this season, City more than matched their opponents but came away with nothing. While that might sound biased and bitter, the Cove goalmouth saw the majority of the action in this clash. Two penalties at either end of the match proved the downfall, but City can at least come away knowing that on another day, they could have so easily bagged all three points.
It was immediately obvious that the pitch was dreadful. The Spectrum isn’t great, but the Oakfarm pitch had really suffered from recent rain. There was barely any grass left in the either goalmouth and mountaineers would have had a field day with some of the inclines. The obvious questions were raised, i.e. whether Cove had rented their pitch to a local cattle farmer for extra grazing…
Four minutes into the match, a looping ball from Cove drew Anthony Hall to the edge of his area. Amidst suspicions of offside, a Cove striker latched onto it as Hall dived at his feet. Penalty. McGarry steadied himself and sent the keeper the wrong way to put Cove ahead.
The hosts enjoyed a short spell where they pressurised the City defence with little end product, but Guildford dragged themselves back into it. The last fifteen minutes of the first half were all Guildford City. Again, the wings were providing much of City’s attacking options, with some excellent throughballs to Elgar and Carnegie. In the 29th minute, Danny Elgar’s instinctive back-heel volley was flicked on by Jack McLeod but Elgar could only find the side netting with his shot. Two minutes later, the same player swung a corner to the near post where Simon Cooper got a touch towards goal, but was blocked on the line.
Cory Knight then showed his skill, fighting his way past several challenges before finding Harrison Carnegie who managed to put in a cross from the touchline. McLeod managed to reach it, but his shot rolled along the ground and stopped in the muddy goalmouth. Cory and Elvis and Tom Pension had been particularly strong during this period, linking up with the forwards and wingers well. In the last moments of the half Harrison Carnegie found himself past the Cove defence, but his low shot was stopped by the keeper and cleared.
The Sweeney had come out in force for this match, and the City fans around the ground surely outnumbered those from Cove.
City stated the second half strongly, with Elgar and Harrison switching sides – by the end of the first half Cove had two men on Danny Elgar, aware of the threat he posed down the right. Carnegie attempted a shot from outside the area but his left footed curler dipped over the bar. In the 54th minute, City broke down the right wing and Danny Elgar put in an excellent low cross under pressure, but Carnegie couldn’t keep his shot down and once again sent his chance over. Cove then had their first good chance for a while, heading wide from a cross. Then, with 60 minutes on the clock, another cross from the right wing found Jamie King, who didn’t have enough time to put in a powerful shot and his effort was saved by the Cove goalkeeper.
The last fifteen minutes were more even, City getting frustrated at the lack of goals (and tiring of the constant battles with the pitch) and resorting to long ball tactics instead of the good passing game they had been playing previously. The defence had to be alert to clear a shot off the line, before Harrison had another glorious chance in the last few minutes of the match. Competing strongly for the ball, he beat his marker and the keeper, but was forced wide and couldn’t find the net with the ball on the wrong foot and at a difficult angle. To be honest, the fight had long since gone from both teams, but in the dying minutes Cove won another penalty, and although Hall got a hand to it, McGarry scored his second to double their lead.
The match finished 2-0 to Cove, but this flattered them by two, if not three, goals. Manager Kevin Rayner suggested both teams be given credit for managing to play out a competitive match on such an awful surface. Perhaps City can find another league win against Banstead in a week.
COVE: C. Foster; T. McGarry; J. Milletti; M. Blount; N. Woodbridge; D. Johnston; K. Gurung; S. Brown; D. Dobinson; A. Jeffers; S. Duff
Subs: B. Balal; C. Shearer; M. Goldsworthy; M. Girling
Booked: A. Jeffers
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; C. Knight; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; J. Brown (A. Bridgeman, 63); E. Defreitas; J. McLeod; H. Carnegie; D. Elgar
Subs not used: G. Adesina; A. Greenland; T. Arnold; L. Bradnick
Booked: A. Hall; T. Penson; S. Cooper
Referee: R. Chatfield