CITY suffered yet another defeat on their travels in this comprehensive reverse against local rivals Ash. In truth Guildford never really got going as their attempts to play passing football foundered in the mud and United’s superior experience told. It was the home side who grabbed the crucial opening goal – Alan Hanning sliding in to finish after some sloppy defending from a corner. City were still competing and had several chances but they fell further behind on the stroke of halftime as Rob Parrott made it 2-0 from a diving header. The second half was a far better game of football and more opportunities came Guildford’s way. We could only applaud however when James Blason unleashed an exocet from 25 yards to put the game to bed.
Ash had done superbly well to ensure their pitch was playable for this game, given all the rain which had fallen over the preceding days (and weeks!) The ground was clearly still very heavy however and both sides would have to dig deep to adapt to the conditions. Kev Rayner had additional worries with both Lance Banton-Brown and Ben Rayner suspended and a number of other players on ‘family duty’. Nevertheless, the spine of the team were available and we expected a competitive match.
There was little to be said about the first 15 minutes. Chances were few and far between and the bulk of the action occurred in the middle of the pitch as both teams attempted to get a passing game going. Freekicks were won at both ends without result and the first chances of any note came in the 27th minute. City left back Bobby Cain, making his first start, sent a good cross into the Ash penalty area but it was claimed by the United keeper, Arjuna Adlam. The home side then went on the attack from the goalkick, catching the visitors napping and forcing Antony Hall into a superb last ditch save. The resulting corner provided more chances for the home side – Hall having to punch clear and push a powerful shot over his bar. The home side kept up the pressure and three minutes later they took the lead. Another corner was conceded and a high delivery looped into the box. No-one picked up Hanning and he ran in and slid the ball over the line at the far post.
As usual Guildford responded strongly – Harrison Carnegie nearly latching onto a clever through ball in the 33rd minute and moments later, Danny Elgar winning a corner via some tricky play down the left wing. The delivery was sent in and Jamie King unleashed an accurate header which had to be kneed off the line by a United defender. The visitors continued to dominate possession but without result – often getting to the edge of the box but finding the Ash defence extremely difficult to get past. They were almost gifted an equaliser in the 41st minute however, Adlam coming for the ball and missing but with no-one there to turn the ball home. Three minutes later came City’s second chance to get back on terms. A defence-splitting pass from Luke Bradnick found Carnegie who saw his shot put behind for a corner but yet again a header was cleared off the line from the delivery. Carnegie once more went close moments later but Adlam held his near post cross. The seconds were ticking away to halftime and although City were 1-0 down it seemed they had a good chance of getting something from the game. We reckoned without a defensive lapse, however, which enabled an Ash player to get to the byline and cross for Rob Parrott to make it 2-0 from a diving header.
City began the second half well and in the 51st minute it looked like they had pulled a goal back. Danny Elgar made a jinking run to the edge of the area and unleashed a shot which clipped Anthony Bridgeman’s heel before going into the net. The linesman didn’t see anything but the referee did – Bridgey was clearly in an offside position – and the goal was ruled out. Carnegie went close again five minutes later but his shot flew wide of the upright. Still the pressure continued – Danny Elgar firing a freekick straight into the mitts of Adlam before Cain cut broke up a counterattack at the other end. Danny Elgar then shot over the bar from a corner before City won two freekicks on the edge of the area in the 71st minute – neither troubling Adlam. At this point the home started to come back into the game – winning a corner a few minutes later and volleying wide. They made no mistake in the 76th minute however. The ball was crossed into the City area and headed out towards the centre left of the pitch. James Blason ran onto it and without missing a beat volleyed the ball straight into the top corner – a truly exceptional goal and one which well and truly did for City.
We would not have minded if the referee had ended the match at this point, however Ash seemed in no mood to increase their lead and once more Guildford had chances to lend some respectability to the scoreline. Danny Elgar went close in the 77th minute before Tom Penson, once more fulfilling the striker role, tried an ambitious overhead kick. The visitors notched the last chance of the game – Bridgeman curling a shot just wide in the 85th minute – before the referee blew for fulltime. Let’s hope revenge can be ours next Monday.
ASH UNITED: A. Adlam; G. Evans; P. Parsons; A. Hanning; S. Cannie; M. Fifer; J. Blason; R. Parrott (M. Short); S. Lydon (C. Bowditch 90); M. Cousins; M. Powell
Subs not used: N. Garwood; A. Azeem; M. Everard
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; B. Cain; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; A. Bridgeman; J. Brown (Dan Drake 82); L. Bradnick (R. McCarry 69); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (G. Phillips 82)
Subs not used: G. Tydeman; J. Holloway
Referee: G. Matthews