NEITHER side would claim this encounter as a ‘classic’. In fact until Molesey scored in the final ten minutes, most of the spectators were wishing they’d stayed at home on their sun loungers. We could hardly blame the players for this, on a hot day and with the pitch baked hard by the sun, added to the number of games both sides have played recently. Still, after a pretty dire 80 minutes in which Molesey had shaded the possession but Guildford probably had the better chances, Lewis Ackerman finally broke the deadlock with an easy finish. Hardly had the Moles finished their celebrations however than Bobby Cain equalised after an excellent cross hit the bar.
This was the last in a hectic schedule of home games, designed to bring City up to date with their fixtures backlog. Kev Rayner had some choices to make on whether to drop key players (against their will) and avoid some unwelcome injuries. As it was, after a last minute change of heart, Kev opted to keep faith with a strong lineup but with some good options on the bench – including Jaydon Gibbs, brother of the Arsenal defender, Kieran.
The first ten minutes set the tone for most of the match – both sides dominating possession in spells but doing very little with it. Still, Molesey did manage an effort in the opening minute, Shane Sinclair firing over the bar from long range. The match settled into a midfield stalemate before Guildford forged their first decent chance – a James Brown cross being fortuitously deflected diagonally across the face of goal but no City player reacting in time to turn it in. Minutes later the Moles won a freekick which was pumped to the far post but headed clear. Both sides were clearly toiling in the heat and the pace of the game slackened off until the half hour mark. A decent City goalkick allowed Harrison Carnegie to finally get the better of a Moles defender but centre half Rob Lewis had tracked back and put the ball behind. Molesey were more than equal to the corner and the ball was cleared.
The visitors stepped up a gear at this point, however, and started to put Guildford under pressure. In the 35th minute, Sinclair tried another long range effort which Hall caught easily. The visitors were then a little fortunate to get away with a mis-hit goalkick but moments later had an excellent chance to go ahead. The powerful striker, Faz Ibrahim-Zadeh latched onto a through-ball but with only Hall to beat tried a chip to the far post instead of shooting for glory – the ball flying behind. Yet for all Molesey’s chances, it was City who could and should have scored in the 42nd minute. Carnegie was able to go one-on-one with the keeper through an excellent James Brown pass but, as with Zadeh, his shot selection was poor and he tried to chip the keeper instead of rolling the ball into the net. City edged the final minutes but could not find the killer pass and the half finished honours even.
Molesey started the second half strongly and Andy Greaves should probably have buried his effort in the 47th minute – as it was he sliced his shot for a throw. Moments later Hall couldn’t hang onto a cross but was saved by some quick thinking from his defenders. City started to recover and won a freekick in the 51st minute – James Brown firing a powerful effort straight into the hands of Wester Young in the Molesey goal. Yet the visitors were increasingly turning the screw, firing wide after a pacey attack in the 55th minute and being denied four minutes later by almost suicidal bravery from Hall – the Guildford keeper sliding to smother the ball from the feet of Zadeh. In the 65th minute the Moles went even closer – Sinclair beating the offside trap before hitting a piledriver inches wide of the post. During this period Guildford occasionally threatened but their opportunities were squandered, more often than not, by awful corner kicks.
Both sides made double substitutions at this point in a bid to inject some ruthlessness into proceedings. It nearly succeeded for the visitors – another pacey attack resulting in a lob beating Hall and missing the bar by millimetres. This must have shocked City because they started to up their tempo and briefly laid siege to the Molesey area. The Moles’ defence was impenetrable however – Ben Rayner in particular seeing a powerful drive deflected out of harm’s way. The visitors hit back and put together an impressive move in the 75th minute culminating in Sam Lampard heading just wide.
This was at least more watchable than the first half but it got even more watchable two minutes later. Never shy to leave his area, it was no surprise to see Hall dash out to clear a ball. Unfortunately (and uncharacteristically) his clearance was awful and hit the backside of a Molesey player. We expected to see Antony dashing frantically back to his goal-line but not a bit of it – he got stuck in again and still didn’t get the ball. Luckily there were enough defenders back at this point and the Moles could only fire weakly wide. The pendulum swung back in favour of Guildford and in the 79th minute, an exquisite raking crossfield ball found debutant Jaydon Gibbs in acres of space on the left wing. Gibbs controlled the ball expertly, advanced to the byline and crossed into the box, Carnegie not quite able to keep the ball in play.
There was every reason to expect an unusual goalless draw at this point but come on, this is City we’re talking about here! After weathering some intense pressure they fell behind in the 82nd minute thanks to some poor marking. A Molesey corner was only half cleared, allowing Lewis Ackerman to sneak in and fire home from 6 yards out. In addition to the away fans, only Terry Thoroughgood seemed pleased about this – well he had finally won the Golden Goal competition after well over a year of trying! Anyway, he soon had a justifiable reason to smile because City immediately equalised. A pacey attack down the right resulted in an excellent cross which beat Young and smacked back off the post. Who should be waiting there but Bobby Cain and his trusty “cannonball” left foot. Naturally Bobby used his right peg to slot the ball home!
It was almost a shame the match had to end at this point – if the two goals had been scored in the first 10 minutes then who knows what might have happened. As it was City threatened again in the 86th minute but another poor cross went behind with players queuing up in the box. Sam Lampard saw his cross easily plucked from the air by Hall before City won another corner but neither side could grab the winner and it finished honours even.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; J. Thoroughgood; C. Knight; S. Cooper; T. Penson; J. King; J. Brown (T. Arnold 73); B. Rayner; J. Guilford (B. Cain 80); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (Jaydon Gibbs 73)
Subs not used: L. Bradnick; S. Elgar
MOLESEY: W. Young; A. Graves; L. Elliott; R. Lewis; M. Spencer; R. Defoe (L. Ackerman 68); S. Sinclair; S. Lampard; A. Tawenezvi (G. Witter); F. Ibrahim-Zadeh (P. Gough 68); J. McShane
Subs not used: B. Pamment
Booked: R. Defoe
Referee: M. Sarah