Frustration! Just a single word that summed up the experience of City officials, players and fans alike after an unfortunate defeat against the Seasiders of Clevedon. The sending off of a goalkeeper with 75 minutes of the match remaining is a blow to any side. Stand-in keeper Ryan Bernard exchanged his number five shirt for the goalkeeper’s gloves and performed admirably, but City fans just couldn’t stop asking what if? Backing up after the midweek victory over Fleet Town, City were in buoyant mood leading up to the game. Both Ben Walshe and Darren Evans were missing in midfield, with young Alex Afful stepping up from the bench to make his debut.
The match started evenly with possession shared, although City did win two corners in the opening period. Indeed the first half chance fell to the visitors on 16 minutes when Pat Cox’s flicked header just eluded George Bowerman in a threatening position. A minute later the game changed radically for Guildford. A through ball set Clevedon advancing on goal from the half-way line. Will Dukes advanced out of his box to narrow the angle and blocked the ball with his body. Sadly for Guildford the linesman judged that a deliberate handball had taken place and Will was shown a red card. With 73 minutes remaining Ryan Bernard donned the gloves, and leading goal scorer Pat Cox dropped into central defence. The home side sensed this was to be their day and Joe Flurry and Sam Teale both headed over from set pieces. Ex-Aldershot Town defender Clayton Fortune playing for Clevedon was dominating the aerial battle, but it was on the ground that he posed a threat when he ran deep into City’s half before pulling a shot just wide. In a rare attack Alex Afful found some space and eventually laid the ball off to Dom Ogun, when perhaps he might have attempted an effort on goal himself. With half-time fast approaching and members of the Sweeney daring to believe City would be level at the interval, Clevedon scored a fortuitous goal. Joe Flurry fired a speculative effort goal ward which Ryan Bernard, who enjoyed a good game overall, let slip through his hands.
Half-time Clevedon Town 1 – 0 Guildford City
City started the second half as if still reeling from going behind. Ryan Bernard got down low to tip a shot round the post, and not to be denied Clevedon went two ahead on 49 minutes; Matt Thorne curling an effort from 25 yards into the top corner. Two down and seemingly out of the game, Guildford had other ideas. On 52 minutes a Pat Cox header cleared the crossbar by a whisker, and minutes afterward a fine run by the hard working George Bowerman saw Alex Afful ride a challenge to advance on goal where his effort was blocked by the advancing Oli Barton in the home goal. With chances being created there was just a sense that the unlikely might happen. Reeko Best missed a good opportunity for Clevedon to wrap the game up, but on 75 minutes City deservedly got themselves on the score sheet. Pat Cox, now back playing up front, set George Bowerman up and his low effort from the edge of the box just eluded the home keeper. Sadly Bowerman then had to limp off after a heavy challenge, but City, showing plenty of character, continued to cause problems and Clevedon were mighty pleased to hear the shrill blast of the final whistle.
Team: Will Dukes, Josh Clayman, Courtney Cann, Bruce McPhail, Ryan Bernard, Alex Afful, Tuan West, Calvin Thomas, George Bowerman (Kambo Smith 78), Pat Cox, Dominic Ogun (Laurie Walters 63). Unused subs: Dean Thomas
Red card: Will Dukes
Yellow cards: Josh Clayman, Pat Cox and Alex Afful
Referee: Robert Cockle
Attendance – 84