GUILDFORD’s nine game unbeaten league run finally came to an end in this frustrating encounter with promotion hopefuls Camberley. The Krooners really only had one shot on target – their penalty – with City pegging them back for almost the entire game. Guildford themselves should arguably have won a spot kick in the first half but as with many of the key decisions, did not get the rub of the green. The visitors’ chances were limited as well, as Camberley’s organised back four made life difficult, but James Brown, Lance Banton-Brown and Jamie King all went close.
There were concerns prior to the game that the wet weather would prevent this game going ahead. We needn’t have worried as the Krooner Park pitch was in excellent condition considering what had been thrown at it and the noticeable slope helped prevent any standing water. Kev Rayner did not quite have a full squad from which to make his selection. Influential midfielder Danny Elgar had to watch the game from the terraces due to a one match ban and Jamie Thoroughgood was unavailable. Nevertheless a strong side was put out, with Banton-Brown starting in favour of Harrison Carnegie who began the match on the bench.
Both sides made raids into the opponents’ half in the opening minutes but without drawing any saves. Krooners striker Ronnie Green was the first to try his luck in the 2nd minute, firing well over the bar from outside the box before some good work from Banton-Brown a few minutes later earned the visitors a corner. Camberley were able to clear and counter-attack immediately but Hall easily caught Dale Webb’s cross. The match ebbed and flowed for the next 10 minutes or so before the home side won a freekick near the byline – Lee Riddell pumping the ball in but the City defence clearing their lines.
Guildford looked to have made a promising start and certainly appeared comfortable – however a tackle in the 17th minute allowed Camberley to draw first blood. Some nice one-touch passing from the home side culminated in a cushioned header into the path of Ronnie Green on the edge of the box. Sensing the danger, Tom Penson came across and dispossessed Green, knocking him over in the process. It was difficult to tell whether this was a foul or not but the referee had no doubt and pointed to the spot. John Finnieston stepped up and wrong footed Hall by firing confidently down the middle – the City keeper diving to his left.
The visitors responded positively to this setback but Ben Rayner was perhaps a little optimistic as he powered down the middle before unleashing a wayward long range shot. Still, Guildford were starting to dominate possession and put the home side’s defence under some pressure. Banton-Brown was proving a particular handful and he won a freekick on the edge of the box in the 19th minute after being brought down by Messenger. City could not threaten from this or a set piece a minute later but could and should have been given the chance to go ahead in the 24th minute. Former Barnsley (and Premier League) player Darren Barnard pushed Anthony Bridgeman off the ball, earning the visitors a freekick on the edge of the area. The ball was curled in and appeared to be quite clearly handled in the box by a Camberley defender but the referee ruled no penalty.
The match became more open with both sides forging inroads without making either keeper work. Tom Penson did particularly well to dispossess a rampaging forward before feeding Banton-Brown but the City striker was himself mugged on the edge of the Krooners area. On the half hour mark, Jack McLeod delivered one of a number of excellent crosses during this game, winning a corner from which Anthony Bridgeman headed well wide from an extreme angle. Two incidents then followed which should have earned Barnard more punishment than he got – first he impeded Banton-Brown on the edge of the box, earning the visitors a freekick which Bridgeman could only fire wide and then in the 38th minute he comprehensively took out a City player but with no foul being awarded at all! Nevertheless Guildford could and should have levelled a minute later – Banton-Brown finally getting goal side of his marker but slicing his shot wide from barely 6 yards out. The visitors dominated for the rest of the half and forged a half chance in added time when Bridgeman half volleyed wide from a corner.
City continued in the same vein in the second half. Three minutes in, Banton-Brown sent in a good cross from the left wing – Anthony Bridgeman controlled the ball but saw his shot well blocked by some concerted Camberley defending. A freekick followed for Guildford and a corner for the home side – both being easily cleared before the game settled into a midfield duel. The match sparked back into life on the hour mark with a pacey and impressive counter-attack by Camberley – Tom Penson once again having to be on top of his game to clear the ball to safety.
Guildford responded and had their best spell of the half. In the 65th minute Jamie King fed Cory Knight in the area, the City defender firing his shot wide of the near post. A minute later, James Brown, who had come on for Tommy Tydeman, unleashed a thunderbolt from the edge of the area which Justin Gray could only spill. Banton-Brown tore in to put away the loose ball but caught Gray as he smothered it, earning himself rather a harsh booking. In the 69th minute, Brown once again left his marker for dead and sent in a low cross from the byline, winning a corner which Camberley dealt with comfortably. Three minutes later Simon Cooper appeared to be pushed over in the box during a Guildford freekick – yet again no action was taken. More chances came for the visitors but Camberley stood firm. In the 74th minute Bridgeman could only head weakly to Gray after Cory Knight pumped the ball into the box. Substitute Harrison Carnegie then tore down the right wing and crossed to Jamie King on the edge of the area. The City midfielder had the goal in his sights but his shot went just over the bar and another good chance was missed. The Krooners had more luck in the 79th minute – one of their defenders heading the ball just inches over his own bar from a City freekick.
An equaliser was still looking on the cards but time was running low – even despite a generous amount of stoppage time. Jack McLeod continued to challenge the Camberley defence both from his accurate passes and ability on the ball but we could tell the footballing gods were not with us. The final nail in the coffin came in the 96th minute when Ben Rayner was sent off for a second bookable offence.
CAMBERLEY TOWN: J. Gray; D. Webb; S. Thripp; I. Messenger; D. Barnard (S. Davies, 59); L. Riddell; J. Paris; J. Sills; J. Finnieston (W. Kendrick, 81); R. Green; J. Peace (R. Lance, 87)
Subs not used: M. Girling; K. Hatton
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; C. Knight; S. Cooper; E. Defreitas; J. King; T. Tydeman (J. Brown, 64); B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown (H. Carnegie, 75); J. McLeod; A. Bridgeman (L. Bradnick, 90+4)
Subs not used: G. Phillips; S. Elgar
Referee: C. North