This is without doubt the hardest match report that I have had to write. For all Guildford officials, players and supporters present this was a humiliating occasion. The hard facts are that this defeat equals the club’s previous record defeat; a twelve goal loss against Watford Reserves in 1924! Amazingly in the light of the result, seasoned City fans viewing our line-up pre-match expressed satisfaction at the strength of our team. Talk was about our last visit to Penydarren Park in 1972 when we had emerged victorious: a match attended by our current Treasurer who was present once again. Few seriously thought that given Merthyr’s table topping league position, and near 100% home record that we would take the points. We knew though that this is a different Guildford side. A side much stronger than embarked upon the first half of the season, and they would at least give Merthyr a tough battle. How wrong could we be?
Granted this was our first match for 17 days, and our first game away from home since 28 December. Granted the match was being played on Merthyr’s splendid 3G surface. Granted the match was being played in foul conditions with gale force winds and cold driving rain. But a twelve goal defeat? It has to be said from the off that the home side’s performance throughout was of the highest order and from kick-off their play was ominously impressive. Actually at 0-0 City did have a lively attack when young Sam Spencer skipped past a defender. As it looked as if he was about to unleash a trademark thunderbolt he took the ball on further looking for a better opening and the chance had gone. A minute later the home side took the lead with Kerry Morgan converting from a tight angle. City were playing into the teeth of the gale and alarmingly Merthyr’s playmakers were being afforded plenty of time and space. As a result both City full-backs were having a torrid time trying to contain the Welsh side’s wide men. At the interval the visitors were four goals in deficit but there was genuine hope that with the benefit of a half-time regroup, and importantly the wind behind their backs that despite the match being realistically lost we could fight back in the second period.
Half-time Merthyr Town 4, Guildford City 0
Within two minutes of the restart the Martyrs substitute Ryan Prosser had plenty of time and space to pick his spot for the fifth goal. Three further minutes on it was six, and with City chasing shadows it became seven and then eight with still 30 minutes left on the clock! Andy White, Sam Spencer and Tom Williams all limped off to be substituted, and Bruce McPhail clearly struggling with injury gamely played through to the end. In rare forays forward Dom Ogun had a fierce effort parried by Idzi in the home goal, and Ben Walshe had a 20 yard free-kick deflected by the wall just over the bar. As the game came to a conclusion, and with City’s players increasingly playing in unfamiliar positions, the game took on the feel of a training match and Merthyr’s final four goals came almost at will. Not that this is a reflection on City keeper Antony Hall who was not at fault throughout.
At the end of the day and in the cold light of the following day, as humiliating as this was it was one defeat and three points lost. The real challenge is how the players react to this chastening experience. If the reaction is positive we can still make progress in our battle against relegation. Indeed the incentive is to snub the noses of those who think it is inevitable after this loss.
Team: Antony Hall, Bruce McPhail, Dammy Bada, Tom Williams (Nuno Pereira 65), Elvis Defreitas, Ben Rayner, Andy White (Callum Attwood 47), Ben Walshe, Sam Spencer (Jordan Taylor 55), Joel Greaves, Dominic Ogun. Unused subs: Aaron Hennessy.
Red Cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Ben Rayner
Referee: Andrew Quin
Attendance – 237