By Barry Underwood.
Guildford City (1) 2, Knaphill (1) 1
At the Spectrum on Wednesday evening City fought a disciplined backs to the wall rear guard in the game’s latter stages to claim a very valuable three points against fellow strugglers Knaphill. The game was by no means a classic in the traditional sense, but for City supporters it was a performance with moments of flair but with copious amounts of guts and determination. Knaphill for their part will be disappointed to come away from the game with nothing. Throughout the game they enjoyed the majority of possession but at crucial times they were unable to make their territorial advantage pay. City’s starting line-up was missing Jack Knight (studying) and David Unwin (ill) from Saturday, with two debutants Mert Varli and Harry Wells stepping in. City opened brightly and for the first ten minutes looked to take the game to their opponents. Indeed the lively Dan Stewart wriggled into the right side of the box on eight minutes and his shot from the angle ricocheted off of the crossbar. Gradually though Knaphill gained a toehold and started to carve out opportunities themselves; both Alex Lumley and Josh Watkins having good chances: the latter effort forcing Liam Beach into a flying save. Just minutes later the visitor’s took the lead when the City defence failed to clear and Ricky Hogsden was on hand to convert Josh Watkin’s low cross. After a period of stalemate with few chances at either end, City drew back on level terms when Anthony Baker chased down a ball on the left from Jack Collins. With just one target in the box, Baker’s cross was inch perfect, and Dan Stewart’s header found the back of the net to the evident delight of his team mates.
The immediate two minutes after the half-time interval proved crucial to the final outcome of the match. Knaphill opened the half on the attack and in a prolonged goalmouth scramble first Jack Collins headed off the goal line, followed immediately by a tremendous block on the line by fellow centre-back Harry Wells. Within a minute City broke forward quickly and after an interchange of passes with Anthony Baker, Dan Stewart had the simple task of tapping home for his second goal of the night. City stepped up a gear at this point. Jordan Taylor had a fierce effort tipped over by Shelley, and after Anthony Baker had held the ball up well Mert Varli was given a shooting chance that was palmed wide. Knaphill still enjoyed much of the ball but City were still dangerous on the break and on 69 minutes James Ryan curled a free-kick just wide, followed a minute later when 16 year old Darren Oldaker delayed too long in shooting after initially creating a shooting space in the box. In the latter stages Knaphill’s territorial advantage turned into an onslaught as the visitor’s set siege to the home goal. The City defence sat deep and invited the ball to them and in particular both Jack Collins and Harry Wells were outstanding at the heart of the home defence. Knaphill headed the ball against the crossbar at point blank range and at that point they might have guessed it wasn’t to be their day. After further goalmouth scrambles, and a missed chance on the break by James Ryan, the referee brought the action to a close for City to claim a valuable victory; their first at the Spectrum since 17 September!
Team: Liam Beach, Josh Hall (James Ryan 45), Bruce McPhail, Darren Oldaker, Jack Collins, Harry Wells, Jordan Taylor (John Barrow 66), Florin Ramizi, Anthony Baker, Mert Varli, Dan Stewart (John Symons 72).
Referee: Luke Donaldson
Attendance – 122