Despite a spirited performance from Guildford City, the home side found themselves at the wrong end of the score line against third in the table Paulton Rovers. Dean Thomas gave youth team player Danny Bowers his first team debut, as well as placing another youth team prospect James Ryan on the bench. New signing Omari Hibbert was also included in a total of five changes to the starting eleven against Cirencester Town.
The opening exchanges saw the visitors pile on the pressure with a header in front of goal from Paulton’s Ryan Batten inside the first minute as well as a volley attempt from Nick McCoote which went out for a corner, one of the many the Bristol side had in the early stages. This pressure was rewarded in the 11th minute as Brandon Barnes found the back of the net straight from a free kick on the right hand side. George Bowerman attempted to level the scores at The Spectrum soon after but his shot flew way over the visitor’s goal. Brandon Barnes was again involved in Paulton’s surge of attacks, assisting Joshua Klein-Davies through on goal but his shot travelled left of the post.
However, it was City who scored the second of the game as George Bowerman was on target for home side, after Pat Cox kept control of the ball on the left, crossing the ball straight to Bowerman, who slotted it past Paulton ‘keeper Kyle Phillips on the 21st minute. Jamie Thoroughgood then had a golden chance to put City in front but his header from a Ben Walshe free kick travelled wide of the post. Bowerman found himself in the referee’s book just 10 minutes after his goal along with Paulton’s Ryan Batten as tension grew between both sides. The visitors then had two close chances to take the lead; a shot from Nick McCoote hit the left of the side netting, then Ben Walshe cleared a Mike Perrott header off the line from a corner.
The visitors also had another chance late in the first half as Joshua Klein-Davies came close after a through ball from Darren Jefferies. City didn’t give up though and worked hard as Darren Stapleton shot from distance but his effort flew over the bar. New signing Omari Hibbert also looked impressive as he ran almost the full length of the pitch to try and get the ball out of City’s half, but his efforts came to nothing.
Half time – Guildford City 1 – 1 Paulton Rovers
The first real chance of the second half fell to City as Ben Walshe earned himself a free kick but the visitors successfully cleared the threat. Then a goal mouth scramble in front of Will Dukes’ net caused confusion but it was Dean Evans who got the final shot on goal which flew over the bar. Paulton’s Mike Perrot then came close as his header from a corner glanced wide, before City ‘keeper Will Dukes received a yellow card after a clash in his area.
Paulton then took the lead during the 55th minute as a long ball from Dan Cleverley caused Will Dukes to come off his line to see away the danger, but instead the ball found Scott Brice who headed the ball over the City keeper and into the back of the net.
The visiting side then had many chances to extend their lead; Nick McCoote was through on goal with only Dukes to beat but his shot was blocked, Dukes then again came to City’s rescue when Joshua Klein-Davies and Mike Perrot had shots saved. Paulton then came extremely close as Mike Perrott had another chance, only to be denied by the post. However City did not give up as they tried to impose a threat from set pieces, substitute Dom Ogun had his corner saved by Kyle Phillips and Ben Walshe saw his free kick blocked by the wall of Paulton players. However, Paulton scored the third and final goal of the game as Brandon Barnes was on target for the second time after a through ball saw him in front of goal, successfully slotting the ball past Dukes in the 84th minute. The visitors could have added a fourth in the closing stages as an initial Darren Jefferies shot was saved which fell to Joshua Klein-Davies who missed from close range. Even though City lost the game with Paulton dominating with a variety of chances, they defended the visitors’ attacking threats well and will hopefully continue to play with this fighting mentality.
Team: Will Dukes, Danny Bowers, Omari Hibbert, Bruce McPhail, Jamie Thoroughgood, Courtney Cann (Dom Ogun 64), Calvin Thomas (Nuno Pereira 79), Ben Walshe, George Bowerman, Pat Cox (Kevaugn Ward 90), Darren Stapleton. Unused subs: Jordan Taylor, James Ryan.
Yellow cards: George Bowerman, Will Dukes
Red cards: Nil
Referee: Andrew Williams