Newhaven (0) 1, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
For the second consecutive Saturday Guildford City visited a Step Five league leader in an FA competition, and on each occasion they returned home with no reward despite giving their all in battling performances. This Saturday City had made the long journey to the Sussex coast to face Newhaven, who are currently sitting pretty astride the Southern Combination League Premier division table with 13 points from five games, and their task was made all that much harder by the controversial sending off of Jake Gill after just a minute of the second-half.
Understandably the home side opened with the confidence expected from a table-topping side and in the very first minute City skipper Jack Collins was forced to clear from his own goal-line. However the longer the game went on, the more City settled, although the visitor’s still looked vulnerable to long balls into the channels, with Lee Robinson in particular posing a threat down the right. Having returned from injury during the week, Josh Drew for City looked strong on the ball, and after a powerful run his cross into the box just eluded Anthony Baker. Liam Beach, in goal for City, was acting as an effective sweeper being quick off his line and on numerous occasions in the first period his decision making averted serious danger. Beach also impressed in a more conventional manner, twice saving well with his legs, before just minutes before the interval pulling off a quite brilliant diving save to push the ball wide as it seemed destined for the top corner. Meanwhile Guildford looked capable on the break, although often the final pass just wouldn’t fall into place. Anthony Baker’s run down the right outstripped the support into the box, but from his cross the ball fell to Dan Akinwande on the 18 yard line but his effort was saved comfortably by Joe Walker. Almost on the half-time whistle a fine Miguel Anderson pass put Dan Stewart into space on the right of the box, but his angled shot lacked pace and Walker again saved with some ease.
The real game changer came just a minute into the second period when tigerish midfielder Jake Gill went in for a hard but fair tackle on the edge of the box, winning the ball but with the Newhaven player coming off second best. Referee Leigh Judd ominously blew his whistle and all too predictably showed Gill a red card; a match-changing decision that left City management and fans incandescent with rage. A difficult task had just been made all that much harder. As so often happens with ten man, City played some of their best football for the rest of the game. Jack Collins and Matt York had tightened up the defence, whilst Athan Smith-Joseph starting running at the defence. Liam Beach was still in imperious form in goal saving twice brilliantly at the near post after Lee Robinson had created openings. With the game still scoreless and approaching the last 10 minutes City carved out their best opportunity of the game. Dan Stewart made ground on the right but sadly his low cross into the box was miskicked in front of goal by young Nathaniel Williams. Then just as the game approached extra-time the home side struck with a late winner. Impressive defender Connor Sidwell continued a forward run to head beyond the excellent Beach and into the far corner. Certainly Newhaven had the bulk of the chances, and certainly Liam Beach had a stormer in the City goal, but full credit to a hard-working Guildford City side who didn’t seem to get the rub of the green at crucial times during the match.
Team: Liam Beach, Miguel Anderson, Connor Gales (Rory Cornelius 90), Jake Gill, Matt York, Jack Collins, Dan Stewart, Dan Akinwande, Anthony Baker (Nathaniel Williams 45), Josh Drew, Athan Smith-Joseph (Kiyanu Pillay 72). Unused subs: Alex McWilliam.
Referee: Leigh Judd
Attendance – 74