AN early goal allowed Guildford to notch their first away win since December in this entertaining encounter. It was Jack Guilford who slotted home in the 2nd minute and City dominated for much of the first half – the hosts being frustrated by what they saw as dodgy decisions from the referee. The second half was more open and both sides had excellent chances. The pick of these arrived in the 70th minute when a Blues player inexplicably failed to slot into an open net. City made chances of their own but were well pleased with another 3 points.
Barely had we made our way from the clubhouse to the pitch than City were 1-0 up. The visitors attacked powerfully down the right and an accurate cross from was swept home by Jack Guilford. Many of the Chessington fans called for offside but the referee was having none of it. The home side used their frustration to good effect – Scott Todd beating the offside trap but firing straight into the mitts of Antony Hall on 5 minutes. City were not in the mood to sit back for the rest of the game however and started to string together some impressive one-touch passing. Bobby Cain and Jaydon Gibbs combined in the 10th minute to slice the Blues defence apart but Mark Daniels just got to the resulting cross before the City striker. The ever lively Todd responded immediately, keeping the ball in play with a lovely piece of skill, bombing down the right wing and then shooting just over the bar. This was end-to-end stuff and you would never have guessed this was a meaningless match at the back end of a season.
Guildford started to tip the balance however, mounting an impressive attack in the 17th minute. Jaydon Gibbs gathered an excellent raking pass and put Lance Banton-Brown through on goal – unfortunately Lance saw his shot fly wide. More chances followed for the visitors – a corner which was blocked and then a deflected cross from Gibbs being gathered at the near post. Guildford continued to turn the screws until around the half hour mark – Jamie King going close in the 23rd minute after cleverly volleying a throw-in and seeing his shot fly just wide. Five minutes later he went close again but similarly his shooting boots were not on. The home side started to get a foothold again and went close in the 32nd minute – Martin Jackson firing an accurate curling effort which Hall was just able to gather. City responded immediately, Ben ‘Carlos’ Rayner making an excellent run before unleashing a shot from the edge of the area which had to be pushed over the bar – both resulting corners failing to trouble the Chessington defence.
The match sprang back to life in the 37th minute with another controversial decision from the referee. A City player tussled with some blues defenders some 25 yards out and in the tangle, the ball rolled back to Daniels who picked it up. There was no doubt in the referee’s mind this was backpass and he signalled an indirect freekick inside the box – despite protests from the goalkeeper that a Guildford player had kicked the ball. Predictably the shot was blocked (I can only remember one instance of a goal resulting from such an incident!) and play resumed. The game opened up again in the final five minutes – both sides winning corners and Simon Cooper being forced to head off the line from a delivery in the 43rd minute. The half ended with a good chance for City – Bobby Cain using his guile to win a corner and Rayner firing just wide with a decent effort.
Chessington started the second half far stronger – perhaps spurred on by their frustration with the referee. The Guildford defence were stretched to breaking point for the first 15 minutes or so but held together to deny several goalscoring opportunities. In the 59th minute Hall had to pull off a superb point-blank save at close range – City defenders desperately hacking the ball away. As the home side’s pace slackened, Guildford started to threaten once more – Jack Guilford breaking through in the 67th minute and unleashing an excellent cross which Jamie King headed just over the bar. The match was finely in the balance and in the 70th minute came the home side’s chance to level the scores. Darren Smith was put clear down the right, using his pace to good effect and sending in an inch perfect sliderule pass to his counterpart. Hall was wrong-footed, the net was gaping but somehow the ball was smashed against the post from literally 5 inches out and bounced straight back into Hall’s arms.
There was not time for Guildford to thank the footballing gods and instead they mounted an attack of their own – Danny Elgar as usual, weaving his way through several players but seeing his cross plucked to safety. The City midfielder was brought down moments later – the freekick on the edge of the box being deflected for a corner from which Simon Cooper headed wide. The visitors now dominated for the remainder of the game- Rob McCarry and Jack Guilford linking up well in the 89th minute but McCarry’s shot going just wide. In the dying minutes, Guilford hit a powerful shot which was parried by Daniels – the City striker putting the rebound wide.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Penson; B. Cain (A. Bridgeman 77); S. Cooper; S. Carroway; J. King; T. Arnold; B. Rayner; J. Guilford; L. Banton-Brown (D. Elgar 32); J. Gibbs (R. McCarry 79)
Subs not used: J. Holloway; L. Bradnick
CHESSINGTON & HOOK: M. Daniels; A. Heath; M. Holly; P. West; G. Puckett; A. Cheadle; M. Jackson (A. Chandler 90+4); D. Smith; P. Timber (A. Welsh 90); S. Todd (D. Penfold); M. Ellis
Subs not used: D. Fisher; D. Heath
Booked: M. Daniels; P. West; M. Ellis
Referee: A. Connor