By Barry Underwood
Guildford City (1) 2, Ashford Town (1) 3
Despite a spirited performance City went down to promotion chasing Ashford Town in an exciting end to end encounter. In truth the result could have been confirmed in the game’s first fifteen minutes as City looked initially as if they were still in the changing room. On more than one occasion City’s marking in the six yard box was found wanting and only an excellent early display by 17 year old goalkeeper Liam Beach and the woodwork kept Ashford at bay. It was inevitable perhaps that the dam would break and on 16 minutes Dan Fleming curled a close range free-kick around an almost non-existent wall to put the visitor’s ahead. In a rare foray forward City should have drawn level; Ethan Chislett feeding Dan Stewart whose exquisite low cross was met by Mert Varli whose close range effort was well saved by Tyler Tobin. It might have taken time but as the half progressed Guildford settled, gained confidence and to the delight of the home support got themselves on the score sheet. With half-time approaching Mert Varli threaded a pass through to Dan Stewart who confidently rounded Ashford keeper Tobin to side foot home. Boyed by their success City looked a different side and in stoppage time Anthony Baker saw a powerful effort saved spectacularly by Tobin at the near post.
Never afraid of ringing the changes at the interval Don Chislett introduced Harri Findlay and new signing Tades Venta from the bench. Immediately City were galvanised and the ten minute period post half-time was City’s best period of the match. A minute into the half a delicately chipped free-kick from Jack Collins was headed against the foot of the post by Anthony Baker. Looking secure at the back and enjoying possession there was a definite feel that against the odds City could get something from the game. Another chance came City’s way when Harri Findlay’s deep cross from the left was volleyed just wide of the far post by Dan Stewart with Tobin stranded. The visitors themselves adjusted tactically to counter City’s half-time changes and stated to threaten once again. Twice low crosses zipped dangerously across the City box and on 65 minutes Liam Beach saved well with his feet to thwart Mark Bitmead. Five minutes later an unopposed Russell Canderton headed in from a free-kick and once again the visitors had the advantage. In a ten minute spell a short defensive back pass led to Ashford hitting the post, and minutes later the visitors had a two goal advantage when a dissecting pass allowed Jack Beadle to slot home. That it seemed was that. Not quite though – this is a spirited Guildford City side. On 83 minutes Nathaniel Williams trickery set up a shooting chance for Jack Collins and his fine effort found the net off of the inside of the post. Guildford sensed once again that they were back in the game. Both sides had chances with Liam Beach spreading himself well to foil Bitmead, and as added time loomed Dan Stewart was put clear by Anthony Baker but sadly his effort under pressure went wide.
Despite the slow start there was much to commend in City’s performance and certainly it is no disgrace to lose narrowly to the team who are arguably the best in the division. The relegation battle, like the weather, is warming up and with thirteen matches still to play City still have much to play for.
Team: Liam Beach, Jordan Taylor, Liam Talbot (Tades Venta 45), Bruce McPhail, Jack Collins, Harry Wells, Florin Ramizi, Anthony Baker, Dan Stewart, Ethan Chislett (Nathaniel Williams 70), Mert Varli (Harri Findlay 45). Unused subs: Dudley Pearn, Rory Cornelius.
Referee: Harrison Read
Attendance – 114