Sutton Common Rovers (0) 2, Guildford City (1) 3
by Barry Underwood
Being a Guildford City supporter isn’t easy and my goodness everyone connected with the club went through an emotional rollercoaster at Gander Green Lane. At one stage City led by two goals, only for Sutton Common to fight back and draw level. Tadej Venta, in his final match for the club before returning home to Slovenia, was sent off for two yellow cards for twice handling the ball, and so City took a late, late lead with ten men before five minutes into stoppage time conceding a direct free-kick on the edge of the area much to the consternation of City players and supporters. Thankfully the ball finished in Liam Beach’s hands and second’s later referee Philip Jones blew his whistle much to the Sweeney’s relief. Played in rain throughout, City opened in confident fashion and debutant Aaron Smith-Joseph (the elder brother of Athan) make good progress down the left before placing a low cross into the danger area. The ball was only cleared to the edge of the box and the busy Jake Gill hit a low shot goalward that saw Rovers goalkeeper scrambling to save. It wasn’t one way traffic however and ex-Camberley Town striker Manny Quarshie was proving a handful heading over from a deep cross, and then providing a pass into the box that should have met a better response. On 19 minutes Guildford responded in the best fashion when from a Jake Gill corner Matt York rose in the box to head into the top corner. Two minutes later City had a great chance to extend their lead further. The impressive Jake Gill slid a delicate ball through for the onrushing Josh Drew whose side foot effort went just wide. Encouraged by the goal City twice more came close as the half came towards an end. First Matt York headed over from another corner, and moments later Anthony Baker headed a Smith-Joseph cross inches wide.
The second period was more even as City tired after a tough cup-tie on Saturday. Sutton’s Quarshie had a great chance one on one with Liam Beach but his lobbed effort sailed harmlessly wide. On 54 minutes Guildford City found fortune with the referee and were granted a penalty when an SCR defender was adjudged to have blocked a corner with his arm! The home players surrounded the referee but to no avail and up stepped Matt York to slot home from the spot. Undeterred by City taking a two goal lead, Sutton Common got themselves back in the game on the hour when they themselves won a penalty which was converted with ease. Spurred on SCR were level within three more minutes when a splendid low cross across the box was turned home at the far post. The momentum now was with the home side and City were being thoroughly tested. Credit though City who gradually worked their way back into the game with Nathaniel Williams off the bench posing problems down the right flank. Twice Aaron Smith-Joseph shot just wide, before at the other end Liam Beach was called into spectacular action to keep the scores level. With five minutes remaining centre-back Tadej Venta handled the ball for the second time in five minutes and inevitably left the field with a second yellow. It seemed it would be all City could do to hang on for a point. However in the 88th minute, and against the run of play, Nathaniel Williams was fouled on the edge of the box. Matt York’s free-kick deflected off the wall and Anthony Baker was first to get a touch and the ball spiralled slowly just inside the post for what would prove to be a winning goal. There was still time for Liam Beach to save low down, and well into stoppage time SCR won a dangerous free-kick just outside the box that via a block ended up in the Liam Beach’s grateful hands. Within seconds the final whistle blew and cue relief and celebrations from the travelling Sweeney.
Team: Liam Beach, Andy Ottley, Connor Gales, Jake Gill, Matt York, Tadej Venta, Aaron Smith-Joseph, Dan Akinwande (Miguel Anderson 59), Anthony Baker, Jack Collins, Josh Drew (Nathaniel Williams 63). Unused subs: Connor Hall, Stuart Searle.
Referee: Philip Jones