TWO points most definitely slipped out of City’s grasp in this frustrating encounter with CCL draw specialists, Horley Town. City forged more chances than their opponents and looked to be cruising to a second successive win and yet another clean sheet before Tom Penson was harshly sent off for a second bookable offence. Horley equalised soon after with a strike of supreme quality but after weathering a short period of Clarets pressure, Guildford continued to look the better side, even with 10 men. Several chances came and went but City had to be satisfied with just a point.
After a break of 6 weeks, we were positively chomping at the bit to get this game played. Hence you could feel the relief when the call came through that despite some rain on Friday, the match could go ahead. Kevin had pretty much a full squad to call on – one benefit of such a long break – but frustratingly could not track down centre half Simon Cooper. The solution was to draft Elvis into the starting eleven. The City defender had intended to watch the match from the sidelines with his baby son, so Elvis junior had to sit in the dugout under the watchful eye of Lance who even served him his lunch in there!!
Guildford had not skimped on training during the big freeze and the sharpness showed on the pitch. Within the first minute James Brown almost latched onto an excellent defence-splitting pass but the ball was just beyond him and was gathered by Dean Cupit in the Horley goal. This was followed by two corners for the visitors which came to nothing. City continued to press and in the 12th minute came another opportunity – the impressive Elvis Defreitas advancing from defence and hitting a perfect long ball towards James Brown. The City striker could not get away from his marker sufficiently to do anything but head the ball and it was well held by Cupit. There followed chances for Jack McLeod and Harrison Carnegie but neither could trouble the keeper.
The home side finally woke up on 22 minutes and a won a freekick inside the City half. Luke Ragetti fired a decent effort on goal but Antony Hall was equal to it, catching the ball confidently. The Clarets won another freekick a few minutes later and a lot closer to the goal but City’s defenders were able to clear. A further chance presented itself to the home side after some good work from Norris and Pullen, but the shot went well wide. Guildford responded strongly with some impressive one-touch passing – Jack McLeod being put through but seeing his shot blocked – before Guildford pulled ahead in the 32nd minute. Another great cross from the right wing found James Brown on the edge of the box but just as he was about to pull the trigger the ball was cleared by some exceptional defending. The rebound fell to Carnegie who threaded a shot through the penalty area, past two defenders and the despairing stretch of the keeper into the back of the net – a seamstress couldn’t have done better!
Guildford continued to look dangerous but they could not forge any more clear cut chances. A bizarre drop-ball decision was made in the 35th minute after Danny Elgar appeared to have been brought down on the edge of the box (although from our view the claim was admittedly speculative). A minute later Jack McLeod, who had used his pace and control to good effect so far, passed to Carnegie who opted to shoot rather than pass – a weak shot being easily gathered. The home side started to come back into contention however and in the 40th minute Jones put Death (no, not the Grim Reaper!) through, whose shot was deflected behind for a corner – the resulting kick being easily cleared. The final action of the half was a controversial decision not to book the Horley captain after he comprehensively took out Jack McLeod.
The Clarets started the second half far more strongly and in the 49th minute Michael Death should have done better – shooting weakly at Hall from a good position. Moments later the Horley fans were calling for a penalty after Guscott appeared to be upended in the box but the referee waved play on. The visitors started to get back into their stride and Elvis once again looked dangerous – beating players with his pace and skill. The back four were getting far more of a work out however and in the 56th minute Tom Penson picked up a yellow card for, as far as we could see, exactly the same challenge that Guscott had been allowed to get away with in the first half. They did have another opportunity to test the Clarets keeper on the hour mark but Danny Elgar miscued a volley from a freekick taken by Carnegie.
A minute later came the turning point of the game. The clarets caught City on the counter attack and Adam Pullen latched onto the ball down the Guildford left wing – Penson managing to track back and tackling Pullen on the edge of the box. The referee had no doubt about the incident and controversially sent Penson off for a second bookable offence – a decision viewed as harsh by both sets of fans, as it appeared he got the ball. One could sense the confidence surging into the home side at this point and they started to put their opponents under real pressure. A freekick was won in a dangerous position near the byline but luckily for City the rebound was blazed over. Their luck ran out in the 65th minute however, Horley substitute O’Sullivan volleying a perfect delivery into the bottom corner of the net from the edge of the area with pretty much his first touch of the game – even Moaning Tone had to applaud that!
From being comfortably in control, it now seemed very possible that City might leave the New Defence with nothing. To their credit however, the players gathered themselves and looked to get back into the game. Danny Elgar went extraordinarily close in the 69th minute, chipping the ball towards the goal – Cupit just getting enough on it to turn it over the bar. Guildford could not exploit the corner however and from the resulting freekick Death broke down the right wing and unleashed a powerful shot from 10 yards out which Hall did superbly well to turn behind with a reflex save – Guscott heading into the mitts of Hall from the corner kick.
This was the last good chance of note for the home side however and as they took their foot off the gas it was City who looked the more dangerous for the remainder of the game. In the 78th minute some good passing put Lance through but he could only fire weakly into the arms of Cupit. The home side responded but Norris’s long range effort was well over the bar. Back came City and in the 84th minute came their best chance to take the lead once more. Carnegie received the ball on the right hand side of the box and skilfully beat his man to go through on goal. With just the keeper to beat Harrison had options but he opted to go for glory – blazing his shot over the bar when a simple chip across the keeper would probably have got him a goal. The home side started to push forward once again and in the 88th minute they won a freekick which Hall did well to punch clear – the ball appearing to be on the verge of looping over him and into the net. City then had a good penalty shout turned down. The final chance of the game fell to the visitors – Lance being put through and curling a good effort round the keeper. The ball was moving in the air but it didn’t have quite enough on it to hit the target, missing the post by millimetres.
HORLEY TOWN: D, Cupit; B. Herdman; D. Medhurst; L. Bryant; D. Guscott; M. Norris; A. Pullen (C. Weller); M. Smith (J. O’Sullivan); M. Death; L. Jones (J. Mills); L. Ragetti
Subs not used: C. Smith; A. Jupp
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; E. Dereitas; C. Knight; T. Penson; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; J. McLeod; B. Rayner (L. Banton-Brown, 75); J. Brown (T. Arnold, 63); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (A. Greenland, 85)
Subs not used: L. Bradnick; S. Cooper
Referee: C. Readett