Littlehampton Town (1) 2, Guildford City (1) 2
(Littlehampton won 4-2 aet)
Guildford City’s interest in this year’s FA Vase competition ended on Saturday when they fell in extra-time against Sussex League leaders Littlehampton Town. City though left nothing in the locker in search of cup success and they will have departed The Sportsfield bitterly disappointed not to have progressed. As so often with Guildford City there was no shortage of controversy relating to some of the game’s crucial decisions and this was perhaps reflected by City’s unwelcome clutch of yellow cards.
The home team opened the match the brighter of the sides and from a corner in the first minute Ross McKay headed just over. Although not settled Guildford still looked dangerous on their occasional breaks with Stef Joseph and Carlton Murray-Price posing problems to the home defence. On 18 minutes Littlehampton deservedly took the lead when Dan Simmonds eluded offside to round Antony Hall, and then had the composure to round the covering Ray Guilford to slide the ball home. Littlehampton had scored 11 goals in their last two matches and if the home support thought the flood gates were about to open they were wrong. This is a different Guildford City side and one that belies their lowly league position. On 25 minutes Tommy Degiorgio headed just over from a deep free-kick, but a minute later Stefan Joseph went on a trademark run from deep that took him into the box where be cut in and fired home from 15 yards. This goal was the signal for Guildford to settle and within minutes both Joseph and Carlton Murray-Price came close to netting.
With the game nicely poised at the interval it was Guildford City who took the game to their opponents in the second half, playing some delightful football in the progress. There won’t have been many occasions this season that Littlehampton will have been pinned back, but as at Molesey the previous week, Guildford were showing no little pace, power and skill. The big, strong Stefan Joseph outpaced the home defence down the left on the hour but sadly from an acute angle he couldn’t put his shot on target. Minutes later against the run of play Littlehampton retook the lead. A free-kick was headed away unchallenged only for the assistant referee to apparently be the only person in the ground to see an incident that resulted in a penalty that Dan Simmonds tucked away. Not deterred City stormed forward. From a great build up Tommy Degiorgio saw a low effort zip just wide, and with 20 minutes left on the clock Liam Harwood headed over at the far post. City were totally dominating affairs and home keeper Matt Morrish was forced into an excellent diving save from Murray-Price’s 25 yard effort. From the resulting corner the ball came wide and Degiorgio’s splendid out swinging cross was missed by Sam Spencer in front of goal. With 15 minutes to go Carlton Murray-Price had a pile driver charged down from the edge of the box and as the clock ran down City couldn’t quite fashion a clear opening. That is until three minutes into stoppage time when Anthony Baker wriggled his way past three players in the box to drill a low shot off a despairing defender and into the net. From goalkeeping hero last week to goal scoring hero this week.
And so the match entered extra-time. Perhaps it was the relief of notching a last gasp equaliser or perhaps it was fitness but City couldn’t take their momentum into the extra period. Just prior to the end of the first extra period Littlehampton nudged ahead when a cross was bundled in at the far post despite City appeals for handball in the process. Guildford were under more pressure as the game came to a conclusion and twice Antony Hall was called into spectacular action. Liam Harwood and Carlton Murray-Price both had late chances but with everybody up field it came as no surprise that the home side scored a clincher on the break in the dying seconds.
Team: Antony Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Jordan Phillips (Ryan Wallis 95), Tom Penson, Ray Guilford, Bruce McPhail, Sam Spencer (Anthony Baker 74), Liam Harwood, Carlton Murray-Price, Stefan Joseph, Tommy Degiorgio (Khari Oriogun 74). Unused subs: Ed Boateng, Ben Rayner.
Referee: Wayne Thomas