GUILDFORD sealed all three points and moved up to 11th in the table with this impressive win at high flying Sandhurst Town. This match really was your classic end to end affair but the difference was City’s superb back four who have now not conceded in open play for over four hundred minutes. Time and again the Fizzers came up against Guildford’s back line and time and again they were sent packing. The home side could and should have scored early in the game and paid the price when Simon Cooper side-footed home from a James Brown cross in the 9th minute. The visitors then absorbed everything Sandhurst could throw at them and forged a number of chances on the counter-attack – Harrison Carnegie chipping home one of them in the 66th minute.
The day started early as I was giving Sam and Chris (alias Pedro) a lift to a pub near the ground to watch the Stoke v Wigan encounter. One of the students had rather unwisely bet £300 on the outcome of that and the Man Utd v Villa game later on and ended the day understandably crushed!! Still a valuable lesson learned hopefully. Ian P and I headed for the ground and chatted to a rather friendly fan and members of the Sandhurst committee. A good contingent of City fans eventually made it to the ground including Lofty, Sir Lagerlot and his brother, Eddie, Ros, Milts and John B. Tommy Tydeman was spied sleeping in the clubhouse after attending his work Christmas bash the night before. The plan was to play him at right back but in Kevin’s words he was soon ‘not feeling too clever’ and striker Luke Bradnick was quickly drafted in as an unlikely replacement. Match officials were happy to relegate Tommy to the bench as long as he did not throw up on the assistant referee while he was running the line!
Sandhurst had started their season well but had fallen off slightly in recent weeks. This was still going to be a tough game however and we were all saying how happy we would be with a point. Predictably enough it was the home side who started the most positively – winning a corner in the first minute from which they fired wide. Two minutes later they won a freekick on the edge of the Guildford area which David Blake could only send into touch. In the sixth minute came perhaps the pivotal incident of the match. With Guildford well penned back, Sandhurst won a corner. The delivery fell to an unmarked player just a few yards out and he fired a powerful shot towards the open net. Somehow Hall dived and saved the shot (he ‘slipped’ apparently) and then got his feet to the rebound in an astonishing and miraculous double save. Guildford’s confidence started to grow and soon they were causing their opponents some problems with impressive slick passing moves from the penalty area whenever the Fizzers pushed forward to attack. Harrison Carnegie did extremely well to win a corner in the 9th minute which was curled in and headed to Jack McLeod, lurking on the edge of the box. The City striker skipped over a challenge and made it to the byline before firing a low hard shot across the face of goal – Simon Cooper sidefooting the ball home from close range in the crowded penalty area.
Guildford had grabbed an unlikely lead but given the balance of play we all expected it to be a short-lived one. Sure enough the Fizzers threw everything at City in a bid to get an equaliser. Whilst this put pressure on the defence it also left the home side extremely vulnerable to the counterattack and City repeatedly used direct, one touch passes and raking crossfield balls to release the wingers and the strikers. Jack McLeod went close from just such a move a minute after the goal – Sandhurst won a freekick which was cleared and then a 40 yard ball cross-field ball was delivered perfectly into the path of the striker down the left wing, his shot unfortunately was well wide. The home side again tested City however from a corner kick in the 13th minute – Hall having to push the ball onto the bar and behind and then desperately smothering a loose ball from the second corner. A few minutes later another raking pass, this time from Cooper, found Carnegie who released McLeod – this time the City striker did a little better, curling a shot just wide of the post.
More pressure followed from the home side however, the Fizzers heading wide from a corner in the 22nd minute before Carnegie had a shot saved at the foot of the post by Sandhurst stopper, Dan Tillson. Five minutes later they went even closer – breaking fast down the right wing and beating Penson before crossing into the box. The ball was partially cleared but the rebound was delicately chipped over Hall – luckily it went over the bar as well. On the half hour, Louis Hibbert really should have done better after intercepting a City throw in and running into the box before skewing his shot well wide. The game settled down into a bit of a stalemate for the next ten minutes or so before igniting back into life when Elvis Defreitas who had been extremely impressive in winning and passing the ball, made a jinking solo run from his own half. Unfortunately his wonder-goal attempt was thwarted by his final touch which allowed Tillson to claim it. The Sandhurst keeper then mis-cued the goalkick and it fell to Luke Bradnick who could not unleash a shot before losing possession. Carnegie had the final chance of the half – running to the edge of the box but disappointingly shooting wide.
After sampling some excellent food from the Sandhurst committee and a pasty from the snackbar we all trooped out for the second half. The first forty-five minutes had belonged to the home side in everything but the scoreline but Guildford were to dominate much of the second period. Within two minutes City had won a corner and then in the 53rd minute came the first of a number of chances. A good passing move put Luke Bradnick through and he turned and unleashed a great effort which lobbed the keeper but smacked back off the crossbar. Jack McLeod who had been rushing in behind then volleyed the rebound only to yet again see it hit the bar and go behind. Perhaps he would have scored had he known how much time he had. Freekicks followed for both sides but with little challenge to the opposition defence before the Fizzers hooked a shot wide from a corner. Sandhurst were starting to get the bit between their teeth again and on the hour mark they went close when Hall came for the ball and missed it. Somehow City’s defenders stood firm and cleared unleashing Carnegie via a well directed pass from Elvis. Carnegie’s shot selection was poor however and the ball was easily saved at the near post.
The match was evenly balanced with both sides looking dangerous. What followed in the 66th minute was yet another pivotal moment. Sandhurst went on the attack once again and this time found the gap in the City defence they needed, the ball being passed to a player completely unmarked at the far post. A goal once again looked a certainty but the player appeared to panic and fired straight at Hall who quickly released Elgar down the left wing, with Carnegie running through in support and Fizzers desperately tracking back. Elgar put Carnegie through with a perfect ball, allowing him to beat the offside trap and this time the City striker waited for Tillson to commit himself before chipping the ball into the net.
There was still plenty of time left for Guildford to throw the match away – a trait we had seen too often this season. However Sandhurst for all their effort appeared increasingly to run out of ideas. This was to Guildford’s advantage but they just could not get the third goal which would have put the match out of sight. In the 70th minute James Brown did well with an excellent run down the right wing, beating two players before crossing to Carnegie, whose shot was blocked. The Fizzers then tried a counterattack, unleashing an excellent crossfield ball but the resulting shot was easily held by Hall. The visitors once again went on the attack – Jack McLeod tearing down the right before unleashing a great cross which a Sandhurst defender hoofed just over his own bar. In the 80th minute Carnegie once again wasted a good chance – running into the box with a defender paying him close attention – the Fizzer finally got the ball and passed back to the keeper with Carnegie in hot pursuit and the ball rebounded to the City striker. The net was gaping but the window of opportunity passed and the eventual shot was well wide.
The match appeared won by this point and Sandhurst’s final chance of the game came from a desperate long range shot from a corner in the 84th minute. Guildford’s last chance came in the 87th minute – James Brown running through and the advancing Tillson just catching his shot before it flew into the net.
SANDHURST TOWN: D. Tillson; J. Fisk; B. Williams; D. Wilson; M. Weston; R. Hogston (M. Warnock, 54); D. Wilde (T. Cooper, 78); G. Rapley (C. Parker, 46); D. Blake; D. Simmons; L. Hibbert
Subs not used: L. Eagle
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; L. Bradnick (C. Knight, 67); T. Penson; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; J. Brown; E. Defreitas; J. McLeod; H. Carnegie (A. Bridgeman, 89); D. Elgar (Sam Cockerill, 84)
Subs not used: T. Tydeman; J. Turner
Referee: M. Choi