Guildford City clinched the Combined Counties Premier Division title for the second successive year with victory over Raynes Park Vale. Kevin Rayner’s record-breaking side scored four times, with the visitors also playing their part by netting twice in reply, although the result never really looked in doubt. Austin Gacheru bagged a brace against his former club to catch up with Dan Moody in the leading goalscorer chart, with an own goal on the stroke of half time and a cool finish from Lance Banton-Brown completing the scoring for the home side. Raynes Park pulled goals back at the start and end of the second half through Dave Mosley and Layiwola Lemoh.
The first chance of the match fell to Raynes Park’s Lemoh as he found plenty of space on the far side of the penalty area, but skewed his shot wide of Michael Hall’s goal. In a match that took a while to warm up, City had their first attack soon afterwards but Gacheru couldn’t connect to a Moody pass – who himself fired over minutes later. Simon Cooper met a long free kick but couldn’t direct his header on target. It was by no means one way traffic and only an excellent intervention by Cooper prevented the visitors from a goalscoring opportunity after a superb run from Antony Moulds.
There was then a bizarre moment when Vale goalkeeper Adrian Plummer appeared to throw the ball into his own net after catching a cross but, after consulting with his assistant, the referee chose to disallow the goal and caution Austin Gacheru! However, the striker got his name on the scoresheet in the 42nd minute, latching onto a cross from Jaydon Gibbs and rifling home left-footed. Minutes later the advantage was doubled. On the stroke of half time Dan Moody’s pass was deflected into the goal by defender Dan Stevens for an (un)fortunate own goal.
Anyone from Guildford City expecting an easy afternoon was given a sharp shock two minutes after the break. A clearance under pressure fell to Dave Mosley whose first time effort looped high before hitting the back of the net. On the hour mark, Gacheru grabbed another goal to restore the two goal cushion, moving the ball between his feet to slot past Plummer. Gibbs and Moody had chances to get City’s fourth but in the end it was Lance Banton-Brown who showed a great turn of pace to round Plummer and get his second goal in two matches.
The pace of the champions-elect slowed after this and Raynes Park Vale grabbed a second goal of the afternoon when Lemoh played keepy-uppy on the edge of the box before slipping past Heavey and Cooper to fire home the best goal of the match. The final whistle sparked celebrations, albeit a little more low key than last season… after all, this championship winning thing is getting a bit old hat now 😉 Guildford City can be rightly proud of the players and management that have secured this superb achievement – wrapping the title up for the second time in two seasons with matches to spare!
Michael Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Ben Rayner (Ben Camara 63), Simon Cooper [capt], Moses Spencer, Will Heavey, Dan Moody, Jack Guilford (Tony Chaplin 71), Austin Gacheru, Joel Hughes (Lance Banton-Brown 83), Jaydon Gibbs.
Unused substitutes: Tom Penson, Corey Holder
Cautioned: Simon Cooper, Austin Gacheru
Referee: Peter Crichlow