CITY struck late to grab a share of the spoils in this scrappy and physical encounter with struggling Wembley. Despite Guildford having several good chances, it was the home side who went ahead with almost the last kick of the first half – Paul Shelton volleying home from a corner. The second period was as scrappy as it comes and looked to be all over when Wembley won a penalty but the spotkick was easily saved by Hall. Ben Rayner then fired home from close range in the dying minutes of the game to secure a well-earned point for the Surrey side.
A good contingent travelled up to Wembley for this match and unlike last time, we did not get stuck on the South Circular – although Kevin and some of the lads did not fare so well on their trip from Croydon. Again there were some gaps in the ranks with Elvis Defreitas, James Brown and Jack McLeod all missing. This allowed Luke Bradnick a chance to impress in the starting lineup and Danny Elgar’s brother Scott his first appearance on the bench. One look at the pitch told us this would be a tough encounter – it was heavy and a large area near the halfway line was spread with sand.
Guildford started the match well and in the 3rd minute had an excellent chance – Lance striking an accurate low shot from the edge of the box which Power-Simpson, the Wembley keeper, had to push past the post at full stretch. The home side started to test the Guildford defence however with the lively Paul Shelton causing problems for his markers. Tom Penson was working particularly hard down the right wing and was lucky not to get a card in the 5th minute. Moments later an attack from the home side led to a forward miscuing a good shooting opportunity and Jumo Mitchell blazing over the bar.
City went straight on the offensive however and had two excellent chances to take the lead. In the 7th minute Jamie King did well to latch onto a pass but dragged his shot wide of the post and a minute later Danny Elgar saw his shot saved and the rebound missed. This end to end action continued with Tom Penson pulling off an excellent last ditch tackle on the quarter hour mark to deny a scoring opportunity before at the other end Danny Elgar put a revitalised Anthony Bridgeman through – a great shot being deflected behind for a corner which came to nothing.
Guildford were more than holding their own but there were some niggly challenges creeping in and cards started to get shown – Lance earning one for a tussle with Glenn Garner. On the half hour mark, Shelton should have done better – beating the offside trap before half volleying straight into Hall’s mitts. The pattern of attack and counter-attack continued however and Guildford were soon at the other end – Lance receiving the ball on the right hand side but being scythed down on the edge of the area – Garner earning himself a booking and the derision of the away fans. City were unable to capitalise and soon Wembley were on the attack once again – Jamie Thoroughgood being beaten for pace down the right and an excellent slide rule pass finding a Wembley player in the box. He would probably have scored but hesitated, allowing the ball to be cleared for a corner – Hall easily plucking the resulting delivery from the air.
The final minutes of the half were action packed. First Guildford won a corner in the 40th minute after some good work from Jamie King. A great delivery found Thoroughgood whose header was cleared off the line and behind for another corner – the second being dropped and reclaimed by Power-Simpson. In the first minute of added time, Wembley responded to a further abortive attack by City with a lightning raid down the right wing – Jamie Thoroughgood getting back just in time to kick a dangerous cross behind. The home side took the corner and the ball was headed out but only as far as Shelton who had been lurking on the edge of the box – the Wembley forward volleyed the ball sweetly and it flew over Hall’s head and into the back of the net. Guildford, worked hard in the remaining seconds, winning two more corners but could not trouble the keeper.
The was some consensus, even from the home fans, that Guildford should have been leading at half time. Nevertheless with the enforced substitution of Lance due to injury and the lack of other options up front, City were going to face an up-hill battle in the second half. The home side made their intentions crystal clear from the kick off, Glenn Garner sliding in to a 60/40 ball which was running back to Hall, colliding with him and knocking him to the ground where he stayed for the next five minutes. The ref ruled there was no intent in the challenge and play eventually restarted albeit with Hall limping visibly. City got back into their stride though and an excellent tackle down the left wing by Cory Knight started a good move from which Danny Elgar fired over the bar. On the hour mark a well directed ball from City debutant Rob McCarry released Anthony Bridgeman down the right; the Guildford pace-ace let fly from a similar distance to that incredible goal against Ramsgate but this time the ball flew wide of the far post.
Back came Wembley and Shelton let another chance slip away when he sliced well wide when free in the area. In the 69th minute Ben Rayner picked up a booking for a clumsy challenge on the edge of the box and the resulting kick was cleverly crossed to the far post – the player poking the ball just wide. More attacks followed, Wembley winning a corner and seeing three shots blocked by some committed defending, before winning a freekick near the byline in the 75th minute – Tom Penson lucky again not to be booked for the challenge – and the ball being headed over. The pendulum swung once more in Guildford’s favour however and just two minutes later, Power-Simpson did well to push a Danny Elgar shot onto the bar. Guildford then won a freekick which caused a goalmouth scramble before being cleared.
For all their endeavour it was looking increasingly likely that Guildford would leave Vale Farm with nothing. And in the 83rd minute it seemed the home side would land the decisive blow when Jerome Walker beat the offside trap, advanced into the box and was brought down for a cast iron penalty. Up stepped Shelton but his shot was terrible – weak and too close to the keeper – and Hall held it comfortably. Although City’s players looked tired, they at last had some hope and suddenly Wembley started to sit deeper, allowing players like Greenland to run at them. The former Banstead man was at the centre of the equaliser just 6 minutes later – latching on to a pass, tearing into the box and letting fly with a powerful shot which Power-Simpson could only spill into the path of Ben Rayner – the Guildford midfielder firing emphatically into the roof of the net.
There was plenty of stoppage time given the earlier injury to Hall and both sides had half chances – Wembley winning several freekicks and a corner whilst Bridgeman and Greenland went close for Guildford.
WEMBLEY: M. Power-Simpson; D. Dyer; T. Edun (M. Black, 86); D. Reading; A. Walker; J. Okunowo; I. Bates; G. Garner; J. Walker; P. Shelton; J. Mitchell
Subs: S. O’Connell; R. Bempah; D. Clinton; A. Kouadri-Habbaz
Booked: D. Dyer; G. Garner; P. Shelton; J. Mitchell
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; C. Knight; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; L. Bradnick (R. McCarry, 59); B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown (A. Greenland, 39); A. Bridgeman; D. Elgar
Subs not used: Scott Elgar; H. Carnegie
Booked: B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown; D. Elgar
Referee: E. Santos