City succumb to Hartley Goal Machine
Hartley Wintney (3) 5, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
After three games unbeaten City visited Green Lane and came a cropper against a free-scoring Hartley Wintney side that have now scored an incredible 17 goals in just three league matches! The home side showed their intentions during the close season by appointing Anthony Millerick, the former Cove boss, as manager. Millerick appears to have united the best players from the powerful Cove side of last season, with the best of last season’s Hartley side who themselves achieved a ninth place finish last time round. Manager Don Chislett knew that this was to be our biggest test thus far and it was apparent from the kick-off that the home side were a highly efficient and hard working side.
City were struggling early to play their normal passing football, and any breakdown in possession immediately saw Hartley threatening the City goal. On five minutes Ross Cook zipped a shot just over from 25 yards and just a minute later Hartley opened the scoring when Adam Everiss picked up a half-clearance on the edge of the box and fired into the corner beyond the diving Searle. In a rare foray forward Anthony Baker saw a header comfortably saved but on 14 minutes Hartley nudged further ahead and the writing was on the wall. A high ball into the right channel found Steve Duff who used his strength to find space and slide the ball past the advancing Searle. Guildford were struggling to make any headway and on 25 minutes it was 3-0 when the impressive Cook scored directly from a free-kick from 20 yards. Perhaps spurred a little by the beautiful sunset behind the Hartley goal, and to their credit, City did settle a little before the interval, and did play their best football of a chastening half.
To their credit City lifted their game during the second period. Indeed immediately after the restart City should have scored when Dan Stewart’s effort from Kiyanu Pillay’s cross was saved by Craig Atkinson’s legs. Minutes later Anthony Baker just failed to reach a high bouncing ball when any touch might have taken it past Atkinson. City might have improved but make no mistake Hartley were still dominant and their pace, power and running off the ball was exemplary. On 51 minutes any thought of an unlikely comeback was squashed when that man Cook got the wrong side of the defence and neatly lobbed the ball over Stuart Searle. On the hour Hartley notched a fifth and memories started to turn to some disastrous evenings in the South & West division. Possibly the home side took their foot off the pedal a little in the closing stages and certainly Guildford kept going forward in search of a consolation. In a goalmouth scramble an Anthony Baker effort was well saved by Atkinson, and a fine Dan Stewart run was thwarted just as he was about to pull the trigger. Special mention to the Sweeney present who were still singing in the game’s final moments, and it was a treat to hear Hartley’s supporters themselves singing Guildford’s songs during the first half. It was no disgrace to lose in such a manner to Hartley who based on their squad and early performances will be a major challenger this season, and I’m sure many other sides will come unstuck against the “Orange Goal Machine”.
Team: Stuart Searle, Alex McWilliam, Connor Hall, Matt York, Tadej Venta, Jack Collins (Myles Jones 86), Kiyanu Pillay, Rory Cornelius, Anthony Baker, Dan Stewart, Athan Smith-Joseph (James Ryan 76). Unused subs: Liam Beach, Jamie Howard.
Referee: Harrison Read
Attendance – 79