Knaphill (2) 4, Guildford City (0)2
After two matches in the week leading up to the game, the last of them on Thursday, this match proved to be one game too far for City’s young side. Physically and emotionally a relegation battle is a tough ask for any side, but after grinding out four points in their previous two matches City were unable to raise themselves for a third time. It didn’t help that Dan Stewart felt a tweak in the warm up and dropped out of the starting line-up. In any event the City squad had a lengthy debrief post-match and they will go again at Badshot Lea on Tuesday. City in fact started brightly and within minutes of the start Anthony Baker’s header was on target, although lacking power. Minutes later following a City corner, Baker swivelled on a loose ball and blasted over when the lurking Kris Campbell might have been a better option to have taken the shot.
As the game progressed Knaphill started to dominate proceedings and the pressure began to tell. Liam Beach was twice called into action and it was no surprise when Knaphill opened the scoring on 24 minutes. Dan Thorogood escaped the attention of the City defenders to coolly lob the ball over a stranded Liam Beach. City did have a chance after 42 minutes when Anthony Baker found space in the box but he went to ground before getting a shot away amidst suspicions that he had been brought down. In any event the referee waved play on and two minutes later Knaphill were two goals ahead; James Norman bundling the ball home from close range after Liam Beach had saved the first effort.
The half-time substitution of Dan Stewart for Florin Ramizi certainly lifted City and early on his run and cross from the left only just eluded Anthony Baker. Just when it seemed Guildford could drag themselves back into the game they conceded for a third time. City lost the ball cheaply in midfield and the defence were wrong footed allowing the impressive Arafat Kabuye to fire the ball home from close range. It is 14 matches since Guildford last failed to score a goal and when Tadej Venta headed home Jack Collins corner on 58 minutes that run was maintained and City were back in the game. Ishmael Erskine made a lively appearance from the bench, but generally throughout the match the service to the strikers from City’s wide players was somewhat disappointing. To compound a frustrating day Arafat Kubuye made good ground down the left and his cross found Dan Thorogood who brilliantly volleyed home to restore Knaphill’s three goal lead. On 71 minutes Dan Stewart hit a speculative shot from 22 yards that squirmed under Richard Shelley’s body and into the net, and with 19 minutes or so remaining there was hope. In fact City played some of their best football in the late stages but a combination of lack of composure and sound defending prevented the visitor’s getting on the score sheet again.
Team: Liam Beach, Jordan Taylor, Luke Simmonds (Bruce McPhail 66), Myles Jones, Tadej Venta, Kris Campbell, Rory Cornelius, Jack Collins, Florin Ramizi (Dan Stewart 45), Anthony Baker, Kiyanu Pillay (Ishmael Erskine 66).
Referee: Peter Georgiou