A Joel Hughes hat-trick, plus a pair of converted penalties from Dan Moody, saw Guildford City get the new year underway with a 5-3 victory over Horley Town. Despite an early setback, City went in to the break ahead and extended their lead after an eventful start to the second half in which both sides won penalties. Hughes made sure of the points when he netted the fifth, but Horley pulled another goal back with a late penalty from Kyle Hough.
City were given a rude awakening to 2012 when Adam Pullen took full advantage of some sleepy defending to put the home side ahead within a minute of kick off. City levelled after Billy Dunn was felled by goalkeeper Ian Chatfield in the 17th minute, Dan Moody stepping up to slot home a penalty. It got better for the visitors soon afterwards, although they were helped by the referee who inadvertently blocked Pullen as he looked to capitalise on a slack pass in midfield. Instead, City were able to play the ball down the left wing and Austin Gacheru eventually found space to pull the ball back from the touchline in to Joel Hughes, who scored his first goal of the afternoon in to an empty net.
The second half got off to an energetic start – Horley were quick to press and found themselves level within minutes. Simon Cooper conceded a penalty in the 48th minute and Hough converted from twelve yards. Almost immediately City were back in front. Joel Hughes’ deflected effort bobbled on the turf and evaded the despairing lunge of Chatfield. That was to be the goalkeeper’s penultimate action in the match. Five minutes later, Hughes was felled by Chatfield in the box and the keeper unsurprisingly received his second yellow card of the afternoon. Dan Moody made no mistake with the spot kick to extend the lead to 4-2.
This period was to be Guildford’s most comfortable of the afternoon, as they finally settled in to a good rhythm and had chances to take advantage of the extra man – Dan Moody looking especially lively (and after a hat-trick!) on the left wing while Dunn, Cooper and McCabe all had good chances. The result was put beyond any doubt when Joel Hughes slid home his hat-trick goal in the 82nd minute against a makeshift goalkeeper.
Horley’s belief had just been growing prior to this, and they’d threatened City on a number of occasions with Antony Hall making some vital saves. He was to be beaten again, however, when Elvis Defreitas gave away a needless penalty in injury time – Elvis himself being very fortunate to escape a second caution. Hough scored his second penalty of the afternoon although it was merely a consolation by this point. Although Guildford City only showed flashes of what they are capable of, this was a good win in an eventful match on a heavy pitch – and played in a surprisingly good spirit for a game with four penalties!
Guildford City: Antony Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Ben Rayner, Simon Cooper [capt], Tom Penson, Corey Holder, Dan Moody, Tony Chaplin (Casey McCabe 73), Austin Gacheru, Joel Hughes (Luke Bradnick 82), Billy Dunn (Martin Debrah 79).
Unused substitutes: Jamie Thoroughgood, Lance Banton-Brown.
Cautioned: Elvis Defreitas, Simon Cooper, Corey Holder
Referee: I. Windsor