THIS was not as dull a match as the scoreline suggests. Both sides had chances to win but were let down by poor finishing and some good goalkeeping. City could and should have scored at least once during the first half as Jamie King and Jack Guilford wasted a hatful of chances. Then again the Woods criminally did not score from a sitter some 6 yards out! More opportunities presented themselves to both sides and the last 10 minutes were thrilling as Anthony Bridgeman poked just wide from an excellent position whilst Hall somehow prevented a goal in the final minute at the other end.
Our last trip to Wibbandune back in September 2008 will (unfortunately) live long in the memory. 2-0 down at halftime, City somehow contrived to lose 7-0, conceding three when Colliers Wood were down to 10 men! Kev Rayner was not manager back then, needless to say, but he promised there would be no repeat of this humiliation. Despite the Woods languishing in 20th position, they had pulled off a morale-boosting 5-0 demolition of Bookham in the week and clearly had some useful new additions to their ranks. Kev Rayner, meanwhile, still did not have his strongest lineup. Ben Rayner and Tom Penson were suspended and there were other absences which handed starts to Shaun Carroway, Jack Guilford, Bobby Cain and Glenn Phillips.
City really should have taken the lead as early as the 2nd minute – winning a freekick deep in enemy territory near the byline. The delivery flew to Danny Elgar at the far post who beat his marker before returning a lovely cross back into the area. Jamie King rose unmarked but could not get enough of his head on the ball to turn it in. City continued to dominate possession but found the Woods’ defence particularly determined. They defended well from a corner before winning a freekick in pretty much the same position as before. This time the impressive Bobby Cain stepped up and fired a stinging delivery which the Colliers Wood custodian Chris Duffy was just able to catch. The visitors continued to dominate and Rob McCarry did well to dispossess his marker and cross to the far post, just beyond the onrushing Guildford players.
The home side had had a let-off and they began to grow in confidence – helped by the tenacity of their striker and captain James Davies and the skill of Stefan Joseph and Helge Orome. In the 13th minute, Davies was lucky not to get a booking after comprehensively upending Anthony Hall as they both jumped for a ball in the box. Hall remained on his back for some time but luckily was able to continue, albeit looking slightly dazed. City’ s defence was being increasingly pressurised and Jamie Thoroughgood did extremely well to dispossess Joseph in the 15th minute, before releasing Guilford down the right. Moments later Bobby Cain showed tremendous ability, striking a powerful shot from outside the area which Duffy could only parry, unfortunately Guilford’s shot was well held.
There was an interlude at this point as Colliers Wood illegally brought on a 12th “man”, well it was a black labrador to be precise, offering bags of pace if little tangible skill on the ball. Play had to be held up until one of the players could get sufficient grip on the mutt’s collar and lead it off the pitch! Another chance then fell to King but he headed weakly at the keeper when there was time to control the ball. The visitors responded and Davies did extremely well to get to the byline and fire a slide rule pass which Hall had to dive on to prevent a certain goal. The chance of the half fell to Orome, in the 29th minute – the skilful midfielder controlling a brilliant cross to the near post but poking the ball inches wide from just 6 yards out. Reece Smith-Millar then tried his luck from outside the box, the City bench furious that a clear foul on Cain appeared to have been missed.
The final ten minutes of the half were action-packed. First Jack Guilford saw his header cleared off the line after a superb Danny Elgar cross – Elgar then driving the rebound wide. In the 42nd minute Colliers Wood had another good opportunity after a defensive lapse. This time Jamie Thoroughgood did extremely well to clear the ball milliseconds before Orome was about to pull the trigger. City had the final chance of the half – another great Bobby Cain cross finding the head of James Brown but the ball flew wide.
The Woods started the second half strongly and felt they should have gone 1-0 up just two minutes from the restart – Joseph deemed to be offside when he fired the ball home from close range. A minute later Simon Cooper released Phillips with an exquisite through ball. However Glenn’s pass to Guilford was just overhit and Duffy got there first, Guilford accidentally kicking the keeper’s hand which required treatment. The end to end play continued after the restart – Woods left back Daniel Hughes driving wide from a corner whilst King and Danny Elgar saw efforts well held. Shaun Carroway, making his first ever start for the senior side, did extremely well after losing the ball in the 56th minute. The City midfielder won it back through sheer persistence and then charged down Duffy’s clearance, the ball ricocheting just wide of the empty net. James Davies fired into the side netting moments later before Duffy was called into action, just smothering a loose ball before James Brown could get to it. Glenn Phillips saw his shot held at the near post in the 66th minute before Jamie King tried a header and shot in the 71st and 73rd minutes respectively.
It was astonishing that neither side had managed to score by now and the pace of the match did not let up as both sides sought to force the error which could give them the edge. In the 75th minute a wayward Danny Elgar pass nearly gave the Woods their chance but they reckoned without some superb defending which blocked a shot at point blank range in the box, allowing the ball to be cleared. Substitute Anthony Bridgeman started to find some space down the right wing but he could only slice wide in the 81st minute. He could and should have scored two minutes later though, a wonderful through ball finding him with space on the edge of the box. Unfortunately Bridgey delayed just a second too long and could only poke the ball beyond the advancing Duffy but wide of the post. Colliers Wood then won a dubious freekick on the edge of the City area after Hall was deemed to have fouled a player when clearing the ball. The delivery hit the wall and ping-ponged around the area before being cleared by the relieved defenders.
The seconds ticked away and in the 90th minute the home side had their last chance to grab all three points. Again it came via the tenacious James Davies – the Colliers Wood skipper running to the byline and firing a daisy cutter across the face of goal. A Woods player connected with the ball but somehow the shot was kept out. The home side then won a freekick on the edge of the area but it was well cleared just as the referee blew for full time.
COLLIERS WOOD UTD: C. Duffy; M. Turner; D. Hughes; S. Mead; C. James; R. Smith-Millar; R. Pepperrell; Helge Orome (R. Hughes); J. Davies; S. Joseph; C. McKoy (P. Frodsham 69)
Subs not used: S. Lang; S. Champ; T. Brice
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; R. McCarry; B. Cain; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; G. Phillips (A. Bridgeman 66); S. Carroway; J. Guilford; J. Brown (L. Banton-Brown 66); D. Elgar (L. Bradnick 82)
Subs not used: H. Carnegie; D. Drake
Referee: I. Thompson