Travelling members of the Sweeney journeyed in some trepidation to Cove’s Oak Farm stadium on Saturday where the home side were sitting proudly at the top of the table with a near 100% record. In contrast City had succumbed meekly in their last two matches at both Horley and Epsom. Once again City was fielding a depleted line up, including a defence missing Elvis Defreitas and Liam Harwood. So with the odds stacked against them how were Guildford going to react? The answer was bravely. Okay so in the cold light of day this was another defeat, but in the terms of performance City grew more confident as the game progressed to the extent that they dominated the second period, and were certainly unlucky not to have got something from the match.
The first period saw an understandably confident home side pushing forward and their direct long ball approach did cause the diminutive City backline problems. Cove’s Ed Smith, on-loan from Slough, had shot narrowly wide early on but gradually City settled and Sam Spencer fizzed a low effort just wide on 18 minutes after debutant Carlton Murray-Price’s cross field pass. Two minutes later Murray-Price engineered a good shooting chance for himself as he took the ball past two defenders on the edge of the box but sadly his shot lacked power and was comfortably saved. Cove eventually took the lead on 28 minutes. Another long ball evaded the defence and Paul Coventry eventually tapped the ball home after an initial effort had hit the post. On 37 minutes it had seemed for a brief moment that City had drawn level; Murray-Price’s effort from Anthony Baker’s cross being ruled out for offside. Just prior to the interval both sides had further goal-scoring opportunities. After a good build up Guildford City’s Sam Spencer curled a great cross over that Anthony Baker glanced wide. Moments later at the other end Cove again got behind the visitors defence but thankfully for the away side the chance came to nothing.
Cheered by their first half display against the league leaders, City came out firing after the break. In quick succession the lively Murray-Price saw efforts go just wide, and on 61 minutes City deservedly drew level. Ben Rayner’s free-kick to the back of the penalty area was met by the leaping Anthony Baker who directed the ball back across goal where Sam Spencer was on hand to convert at the far post. This proved to be Spencer’s last involvement in the match as he limped off having suffered a heavy challenge in the act of scoring. The game was now in the melting pot and with Cove’s players audibly rattled City continued to press. It was therefore somewhat against the run of play that Cove once again took the lead; prolific striker Ed Smith swivelling on the edge of the box to power home a stunning shot. In recent matches such a setback would have put City back on their heels. Not so on this occasion. On 74 minutes an incredible scramble in the Cove goalmouth saw City almost score on three occasions but to no avail. First Murray-Price’s effort was cleared off the line. A scrambled second effort looped up and hit the crossbar and finally Anthony Baker was only able to lift the falling ball over the woodwork. Minutes later Anthony Baker once again came close from Liam Talbot’s exquisite cross; this time Sam Freeman-Johnson in the home goal saving with his body. Cruelly, despite the chances on the home goal, it was Cove who claimed what proved to be the match clinching goal. As so often happens a free kick from wide out evaded attackers and defenders alike and with Antony Hall expecting a touch it curled straight into the far corner; Aaron Parfitt accepting the acclaim. Much to their credit City still came forward and Carlton Murray-Price saw a close range effort bounce up and over the bar. Even in stoppage time City were still creating chances. Junior Alade had a fierce effort saved by the keeper’s body and moments before the final whistle Murray-Price had a shot deflected onto the post.
A hugely encouraging performance then from this young City side, albeit in defeat and one they must take on to the Spectrum where they face Raynes Park Vale on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Team: Antony Hall, Bruce McPhail, Liam Talbot, Tom Penson, Anthony Bridgeman (George Baldwin 75), Ben Rayner, Anthony Baker, Carlton Murray-Price, Sam Spencer (Junior Alade 61), Khari Oriogun, Ed Boateng.
Referee: Stuart Jack
Attendance – 51
Unfortunately there are no photographs from this match.