A cruel 87th minute equaliser from substitute Scott Harris denied Guildford an Easter Monday derby day victory after a brave battling performance at the Spectrum.
Guildford took the lead after 35 minutes through Jamie Thoroughgood, who headed beyond Jake Somerville from Dan Moody’s free kick. Godalming then piled on the pressure in the second half but Guildford defended resolutely and deserved to hold on, before a moment of sloppiness allowed Harris in, to dink the equaliser over a helpless Antony Hall. Guildford were then denied a late penalty shout as Wes Harrison seemed to lean in, with his arm, to Moody’s shot.
It was the first fixture at the Spectrum since February 23 after weeks of harsh weather meaning Guildford only played twice through the whole of March, and the pitch – with patches of sand – was bobbly and made for an untidy game. The wind was also strong and swirled high making it difficult to judge headers for both sides.
The visitors started on the front foot but struggled to turn their dominance into chances, although they came agonizingly close on the 20th minute when Johnnie Dyer’s overhead kick hit Hall’s left post and rolled across the goal-line, Hall though scrambled to it before anyone else could react.
Guildford were dealt a blow in the 27th minute when new signing Tyrone Newton pulled up with an injury after beating two players and firing a shot which was blocked on the edge of the penalty area; Newton’s game was over and he was replaced by youngster Bruce McPhail.
City then broke the deadlock after 35 minutes; Scott Todd was knocked over near the left touchline and won a free kick. Moody whipped the ball across the face of the goal and the giant Junior Kaffo rose to flick it onto central defender Thoroughgood whose header was clean and beat Somerville.
Guildford went close to doubling their lead shortly after, on the stroke of half time, Sean Rivers won a header which flicked through to Moody who shot low and hard to the keeper’s left, but he managed to get down well and force a corner.
Godalming came out quickly for the second half and forced Guildford to defend deep. It was Guildford though, who had the best efforts, Simon Cooper was close to getting on the end of a Moody through-ball and Rivers was unlucky when Somerville saved spectacularly at his feet after another whipped delivery from winger Moody.
Substitute George Short was dangerous for Godalming, hitting a number of efforts just over, but was unable to find the target. It was another substitute, in Scott Harris, who reacted quickest when the Guildford defenders switched off for the first time in the match in the 87th minute. He was played through and took one touch to control, and one touch to neatly dink over the stranded Hall, leaving Guildford shell-shocked.
The big Godalming support sensed a late winner but it was Guildford, again, who had the better chances to win the tie, however Elvis Defreitas had to scoop low to head away as a dipped cross threatened to reach the Godalming winger at the back post.
The home side then had a strong penalty shout turned down in injury time; Dan Moody, who had been City’s brightest spark going forward, struck an effort from the edge of the box which hit Harrison, the Godalming defender, after he appeared to lean into it with his arm. The ball deflected wide and the ref opted to give a corner, much to the despair of the home crowd and the Guildford players.
Kevin Rayner’s side play their next fixture at home on Wednesday night against Chertsey Town, in another local tie.
Antony Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Dammy Bada, Simon Cooper, Jamie Thoroughgood, Tom Penson, Dan Moody, Junior Kaffo, Sean Rivers, Scott Todd (Casey McCabe), Tyrone Newton (Bruce McPhail).
Unused substitutes: Mike Hall, Luke Bradnick.
Cautioned: Simon Cooper, Dammy Bada, Scott Todd.
Match report written by Bruce Archer.