CITY’S bad run of form continued with this home defeat to high-flying Chertsey – the first reverse at the Spectrum since 3 October last year. In truth though, this was a highly entertaining match and the two sides matched each other in pretty much every department. After a closely contested first half, Chertsey drew blood when substitute Dom Worthington drove the ball home through a packed penalty area on the hour mark. With characteristic resilience, Guildford never gave up chasing the equaliser and going close on several occasions. Unfortunately they were left to rue their lack of finishing as the Curfews left with all three points.
Chertsey had the better of the possession in the opening stages of the match but chances were few and far between, with Guildford’s back four finally looking a little more comfortable after a torrid last few games. In fact it was the home side who carved out the first chance, winning a corner in the 16th minute. The ball was superbly curled into the box, bamboozling the keeper and falling to Lance Banton-Brown who could not get enough on it to force it over the line. City continued to have the edge but were limited to snapshots by Chertsey’s well organised back four and midfield. Still, Danny Elgar managed to go close with a long range effort in the 28th minute and saw a weak close shot from the edge of the area held after an impressive move a minute later.
The home side’s slick passing continued but still without result and the Curfews sat back, absorbing the pressure. More chances went Guildford’s way – Banton-Brown trying a delicate chip in the 42nd minute which went just wide and a further long range shot flying over the bar not long after. However Chertsey laid down a marker in the dying moments of the half – Antony Hall having to be on top of his game first to parry a powerful close range shot and catch the ball on the line and then diving brilliantly to his left to save a goal-bound header from a corner a minute later.
The second half was soon upon on us and as we feared, the Curfews picked up where they had left off. In the 48th minute, City were fortunate to see a header fly wide of the post from a cross and a few minutes later a sloppy pass from Tom Penson nearly led to a scoring opportunity. Luckily Jamie Thoroughgood was on hand to head clear and Hall saved a stinging but straightforward long range shot. Guildford started to recover and we could see Danny Elgar getting into his stride, despite being taken out by a Chertsey player without any retribution from the referee. In the 54th minute he brilliantly shook off his marker down the right wing to run to the byline and send in a peach of a cross which Carnegie caught perfectly with his head. Somehow though, Liam Stone, the Chertsey keeper dived low to his left to push the ball off the line and prevent his side going behind. A few minutes later it was the Curfews turn and Steve Goddard saw an excellent effort fly into the hands of Hall. Guildford were not about to cede the initiative however and came forward again, winning a freekick in a central position on the edge of the box. The delivery partially cleared the wall, deflecting at a funny angle which we hoped might wrong-foot the keeper and hit the back of the net (as it had done so cruelly for us at Horley). Alas it was not to be and the resulting corner was easily claimed.
The match was evenly poised and the Guildford defence seemed to be handling most of what was thrown at it. Unfortunately it gave way in the 61st minute. With our hearts in our mouths we watched as a shot was cleared off the City goal-line and the ball eventually headed to the edge of the box. We breathed easy again but our celebrations were premature as the Goliath-esque Dom Worthington hammered the ball into the top corner through a crowded penalty area.
Chertsey had achieved the first part of their smash-and-grab plan raid but the City players were damned if they were going to let them escape with the loot. Banton-Brown drew a diving catch from Stone a minute after the goal but it could have been 2-0 to the visitors five minutes later when Hall dropped a catch and saw the ball blazed over the bar. Still, Guildford were seeing more of the ball and more chances came. In the 72nd minute Carnegie did well to turn and shoot just wide under the close attention of Chertsey’s towering back four and Danny Elgar made a good run down the right but without the vital killer cross. Guildford switched to three at the back and with none other than Tom Penson acting as the third striker, went for broke. But they were fortunate not to be another goal down in the 84th minute as Chertsey counter-attacked down the left wing and the ball found the completely unmarked Agyei in the box. The striker’s composure was poor however and with Hall spreading himself wide, he shot straight at the keeper.
Tempers started to fray on the pitch as the City players sensed the end of their magnificent home run – Tom Penson finding his way into the book for dissent and Simon Cooper being lucky not to get a card for a desperate foul. The Curfews again went close in the 88th minute – a superb strike beating Hall but smacking against the post.
We all hoped for some customary City magic in the dying moments of the game and the chance duly came. Simon Cooper, in the thick of the action, bicycle-kicked a cross to Carnegie. The ball was loose and the net was gaping but the City striker just could not get to it. There was still time remaining plus stoppages but Chertsey proved expert at running the clock down and before we knew it the whistle had blown for fulltime. A much improved performance though, and let’s hope for a return to winning ways against Croydon on Saturday.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; E. Defreitas; T. Penson; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; H. Carnegie; B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown (R. McCarry, 66); L. Simpson (S. Carroway, 77); D. Elgar
Subs not used: J. Holloway; T. Arnold; B. Caine
Booked: T. Penson; J. King
CHERTSEY TOWN: L. Stone; S. Gibson (D. Worthington); O. Treacher; M. Moody; J. Boswell; J. Francis; S. Goddard; G. Bamford; K. Agyei; D. Papali (J. Pomroy, 82); A. Crossley
Subs not used: P. Ellery; S. Tyson; J. Mazzone
Booked: D. Papari
Referee: P. Conn