GUILDFORD showed a lot of spirit but were ultimately outclassed in this encounter with high flying Ryman Premier League side Sutton United. City had the better of the first 15 minutes – with James Brown being denied by two outstanding saves from the Sutton goalkeeper – but succumbed from a simple long ball – Jerson Dos Santos turning Simon Cooper to fire home from inside the area. Any hopes Guildford had of staging a comeback were swiftly extinguished a few minutes later when Dos Santos went down in the box and Sam Gargan converted from the penalty spot.
We had been looking forward to this encounter for some time – especially given Kevin and Roly’s association with Carshalton Athletic. The U’s, perhaps with Carshalton’s experience here two seasons ago in mind, were not taking any chances and fielded a strong side with only a few reserves. Most notable of all, taking his place in goal, was Kevin Scriven, a former member of the Havant & Waterlooville side which reached the FA Cup 4th Round in 2007/08 before bowing out to Liverpool.
Surprisingly it was Guildford who started the stronger and in the 4th minute came a chance which should have resulted in a goal. James Brown was put through and with just the keeper to beat, shot low at the open net only to be denied by Scriven who not only dived to his right to keep it out but saved the rebound with what seemed like superhuman reflexes. Two minutes later Brown found himself clear again but this time, with little support he tried his luck from the edge of the box and his shot went well wide. The visitors finally regained their composure and started to use their pacey forwards to good effect. Two freekicks followed – the first having to be pushed over the bar by Hall but luckily the corner came to nothing. In the 16th minute Sutton again went close – a shot from an extreme angle inside the box going just over the bar.
City’s luck did not last for much longer – finally running out in the 19th minute. A long ball was pumped up the pitch to Jerson Dos Santos who turned Cooper inside out before advancing into the box and beating Hall at his near post – the City keeper able only to watch helplessly. Before Guildford could catch their breath, they were 2-0 down courtesy of what looked to be an extremely fortuitous penalty decision. Later discussion with Simon Cooper indicated it had been a fair cop although in that case did Dos Santos have to dive quite so theatrically?! U’s striker Sam Gargan stepped up and fired home confidently to give the Ryman Premier side a strong hold on the tie.
With the wind well and truly out of Guildford’s sails, it was surprising that Sutton did not go on to extend their lead. As it was the match settled down into rather a tedious midfield encounter with both sides earning bookings for fouls. The match came back to life in the 38th minute – Dos Santos being put clear by a neat ball from Gargan but his effort was a huge anti-climax, a poor attempted chip being easily caught by the City keeper. The home side started to have a little more of the ball after this but could not make anything of their chances – Kevin Scriven dealing easily with a corner in the 40th minute and a powerful but straightforward Simon Cooper freekick two minutes later. Little more happened of note before the ref blew for halftime.
Guildford had come back from 2-0 deficits before but one sensed that this would not be the case in this encounter. Sutton came back after the break clearly content to conserve their energy and soak up the Guildford pressure, whilst occasionally catching them on the counter-attack. The visitors definitely had the better of the first twenty minutes of the second half – firing wide in the 48th minute and putting the ball in the net a few minutes later only for Guildford to be awarded a freekick for a foul.
As their chances of victory become more and more slim, however, Guildford started to get more time on the ball and at last they started to cause their opponents some problems. In the 74th minute Danny Elgar skilfully beat his man down the right before unleashing a cross which beat the keeper and would have been perfect had there been anyone on the end of it. A minute later Harrison Carnegie used his pace to good effect to get into the box but yet again he was unable to get his shot past Scriven. Sutton responded with a shot over the bar but City now had the bit between their teeth and in the 80th minute came their best chance of the half. Another wonderful cross came in from the right hand side and Anthony Bridgeman rose to head what seemed a certain goal against his former club. Once again Guildford had reckoned without Scriven though and the U’s keeper dived low to his left to push it behind. Jamie King should have done better from the corner – rising unmarked but heading wide.
There could be no doubt now that Sutton were going to progress and the match tailed off for the last ten minutes or so. A U’s freekick went narrowly wide in the 84th minute and moments later Danny Elgar tried to curl a shot over the keeper – the ball being easily cleared.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; E. Defreitas; T. Penson; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; J. Brown; J. Brown (T. Tydeman, 64); B. Rayner (A. Bridgeman, 74); L. Banton-Brown (H. Carnegie, 64); J. McLeod; D. Elgar
Subs not used: C. Knight; L. Bradnick
Booked: B. Rayner; E. Defreitas; S. Cooper;
SUTTON UNITED: K. Scriven; B. Hawes; A. Bray; S. Cubbs; S. Perkins (S. Watts, 61); K. El-Salahi; D. Phillips; F. Quarm (J. Hawes, 61); S. Gargan (C. Taylor, 61); J. Dos Santos; S. Young
Subs not used: S. McKimm
Booked: A. Bray; D. Phillips; J. Dos Santos; C. Taylor
Referee: C. Hicks