DESPITE the scoreline, Guildford comfortably brushed aside CCL Premier League new boys Hanworth Villa in this scrappy match. In fact, aside from Harrison Carnegie’s dismissal for a second bookable offence, the only worry was the sheer number of chances City wasted. The match was not a classic and the first half, an outstanding save from Hanworth’s Terry Buss aside, was characterised by errors and wasted opportunities. It took another moment of class from Simon Cooper to break the deadlock and ensure City took away the three points their dominance deserved.
The first question for all involved was would it actually go ahead? A heavy frost had formed overnight and even with the sun on the pitch for the whole morning there was still doubt as to whether it had thawed properly. Mr Pegman and I spent well over an hour lovingly tending the pitch with forks and rakes to ensure it passed the referee’s inspection – “we’re not having yet another flippin’ midweek home game” declared Chris, and then with a note of alarm, “Andy we’re not growing potatoes!” He obviously doesn’t know about aerating the soil, although I agree planting those marigolds along the touchline was a little over the top. Anyway, needless to say the referee arrived and we got the go-ahead.
Kevin had to do a little chopping and changing for this match. Neither Tom Penson nor Elvis were available and Jamie Thoroughgood had just played a rugby match, earning him incidentally his only appearance on the bench as an unused sub in his City career. None of us would have selected Bridgey at right back but he actually did really well and still managed to get forward at points.
After a lively start by the home side, it was City’s makeshift fullback who notched the first effort on goal, shooting wide from the edge of the box. Guildford continued to pour forward and in the 18th minute Lance had the first of numerous chances, heading wide from a good cross. A minute later Guildford had a freekick on the corner of the area which James Brown sent just wide of the far post. Hanworth were really on the back foot at this point but did well to clear a goal bound header from Jamie King after Danny Elgar sent in one of his trademark crosses.
Villa mounted their first meaningful attack around the half hour mark – a forward advancing as far as the City penalty area before being dispossessed. Guildford responded and after Harrison Carnegie had driven wide, a counter attack in the 34th minute resulted in a cross from the wing deep to the far post where Jack McLeod was lurking. The Guildford midfielder headed the ball across goal but Jamie King could only volley it over the bar. An even better chance arrived a moment later – McLeod dribbling down the right wing and beating a defender several times before firing in a perfect cross from the byline which Lance met with an equally perfect header – the ball heading like a bullet for the back of the net. Somehow Terry Buss, the Villa keeper, managed to launch himself across the goal and palm the ball away with a save which rivalled or even exceeded that of the Sutton United keeper in the week. Hanworth must have thought someone up there was looking out for them and they had the ball in the net three minutes from time only for it to be ruled out for offside. Not surprisingly though the last chance of the game fell to City once again – Lance making a pacey run down the left wing but letting himself down with his touch and the ball going behind for a goalkick.
Half time allowed some entertaining banter with the Hanworth Villa fans who, it has to be said, seem like a good lot, although they did give me a bit of an ear-bashing for mispronouncing Adam Piggott’s name and moaned that parts of the running track were covered in frost! Apparently there is nothing that Villa fans like more than a bit of a training session during a football match. Meanwhile in the stands Lofty was positively rupturing the peace and quiet with numerous blasts on his air horn. For the love of God man…..
The second half started with all of us hoping that aside from not dying of hypothermia, we might actually see some goals. We did not have to wait long and in the 49th minute City won a corner which was curled in and cleared but only as far as Simon Cooper who was lurking some 25 yards out. We expected the Guildford defender to put the ball back in the mix but he let fly with an unstoppable shot which screamed into the top corner of the net. Arguably it was going to take something special to earn Guildford a win and so it proved, although the Villains were extremely fortunate some six minutes later. Lance was yet again sent clear with the flag down; advanced round the keeper and rolled the ball towards the met – a goal surely? Nope because at that moment a Hanworth defender slid in, missing the ball with his feet but, it seemed, certainly catching it with his hand, before it rolled behind. Frustratingly the ref ruled no penalty and Lance’s luckless streak continued.
The visitors had some respite at this point and started to make some inroads, although a promising move on the hour mark ended with Hall easily claiming a cross from the byline. After several Villa substitutions, Kev decided it was time to shuffle the pack and threw on Adrian Greenland for McLeod. In fact Greenland’s first touch almost resulted in a goal as he put Harrison through about 25 yards out and, with Terry Buss advancing, Harrison tried a cheeky but well judged lob. Yet again Hanworth had much to thank their keeper for as he frantically backtracked and pushed the ball over the bar. More chances came Guildford’s way – Jamie King firing disappointingly wide in the 69th minute before Lance once again went through but saw his shot held.
This was not champagne football by any stretch of the imagination and it got worse in the 75th minute – Harrison earning himself a second yellow card for allegedly using foul and abusive language – a charge he denied. Now was the chance for Villa to get back into the game but they just did not have the firepower to cause problems, despite winning a freekick in a dangerous area in the 79th minute. Guildford continued to make chances and waste them – Simon Cooper firing a freekick straight into the arms of Terry Buss, Bridgey firing a good effort wide of the post and Lance failing to convert two more good opportunities when one on one with the keeper. The match concluded with James Brown and Danny Elgar going close whilst Hanworth fired wide from the edge of the box with the last kick of the game.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; A. Bridgeman; C. Knight; S. Cooper; T. Tydeman; J. King (J. Brown, 74); J. McLeod (A. Greenland, 65) ; B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown (L. Bradnick, 85); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar
Subs not used: J. Thoroughgood; Rob McCarry
Booked: L. Banton-Brown; D. Elgar
Sent off: H. Carnegie
HANWORTH VILLA: Terry Buss; C. Hare (Tony Buss, 46); Daryl North; C. Byron; Darren North; M. Baines (A. Piggott, 67); G. Jenkins; M. Buss; L. Higgs; B. Reed (L. King, 56); S. Loveridge
Subs not used: L. Stevenson
Referee: L. Smith