Badshot Lea (1) 2, Guildford City (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
Goodness me! How Guildford City didn’t comfortably win this match will be known only unto them. The fact is though that not only did City not win, they somehow conspired to lose. Badshot Lea for their part must be walking on air. On Thursday evening they were outplayed by Horley in the Surrey Cup but it was the Baggies that went through to the next round. Then on this occasion at Shawfield Road City created countless chances, failed to take them, and it was the Baggies again who emerged victorious. Certainly on a bitterly cold and draughty day Guildford played some nice passing football. Indeed at times perhaps too nice. Indeed the visitors should have taken the lead after just eight minutes; Matt Anton used his pace to break clear but his low shot was saved by the diving Josh Peckham’s feet. Guildford had impetus now and it seemed just a matter of time until the breakthrough came. The impressive Darren Caesar in midfield saw a 30 yard free-kick tipped on to the crossbar by Peckham, and on 20 minutes Florin Ramizi found Matt Anton in an advanced position, and after ghosting past the last defender Anton again saw his low shot saved by the hardworking Peckham. On 25 minutes the goal came at last. The only trouble was it came for Badshot Lea who in a rare attack hooked the ball home from 15 yards. City seemed to treat this as merely a temporary blip and they continued to make inroads going forward, and it seemed as if they had equalised after 33 minutes. Nathan Chamber’s challenging cross was pushed out by Peckham and Darren Caesar’s reaction effort appeared to be heading goal ward, only to drift inches wide of the post.
Surely Dean Thomas’s stern words at the interval would change Guildford’s fortune in front of goal. Four minutes into the half it seemed that moment had come but clearly City striker Matt Anton must have run over a black cat en-route to the game as after taking an excellent touch his close range effort was blocked by the advancing Peckham. Surely this was one of those games when you shout “keep playing and it will come.” Again a chance came on 55 minutes when following a corner Darren Caesar swivelled in the box and hit the post from close range. It seemed the groan of frustration from the assembled Sweeney behind the goal could have been heard in Guildford. As so often happens in these circumstances City were made to pay. Darren Caesar was bundled off the ball in the middle of the park, and as the referee waved play on the ball was spun wide before being crossed and converted at the far post. Referee Andy Mawby had judged several tough challenges on midfield maestros Darren Caesar and Curtis George to be fair and in the aftermath of the goal Caesar let frustration get the better of him and he was shown red for some ill-chosen words directed at the match official. Down to ten men and two goals down Guildford pushed players forward in pursuit of reward and with 20 minutes left to play they finally broke through. Adam Nditi’s shot was spectacularly saved but Curtis George was on hand to convert from close range. Three minutes later City should have equalised when after a fine move involving Anton and George, Adam Nditi took a touch too many and his shot was blocked. In the late stages the Baggies looked dangerous on the counter-attack as City streamed forward. A brilliant triple save from Liam Beach kept the visitors in the hunt before at the other end a strong run from debutant Sanchez Benali concluded with his shot saved at the near post by Peckham’s legs. In the game’s final action both sides exchanged chances. Liam Beach produced a fine reflex save, whilst another City effort was hooked just wide of the post. Credit to Badshot Lea for claiming the points but manager Dean Thomas and his team will be hugely frustrated at not converting more of the copious number of chances they created.
Team: Liam Beach, Tom Booth, Adam Nditi, Matt York, Harry Driver, Josh Everard, Darren Caesar, Curtis George, Matt Anton, Nathan Chambers (Sanchez Benali 63), Florin Ramizi (Adam Turner 54). Unused subs: Martin Dynan, Callum Sexton.
Referee: Andy Mawby