Farnham Town (1) 2, Guildford City (0) 2
by Barry Underwood
The Yuletide Hogs Back derby finished with honours even after an entertaining battle at Farnham’s Memorial Ground. Played on a very heavy pitch with a more than generous grass covering this was not a day for the football purist. That said City did their upmost to play some football and in the first half especially they dominated possession, without as so often this season, making their time on the ball pay. Harry Driver and Bradley Pegg returned to the match day squad, although manager Dean Thomas preferred to start with the 11 who had initially lined up in last week’s victory over Chertsey. As early as the third minute Guildford came close when Jack Battie’s shot was turned around for a corner, from which Martin Dynan headed inches wide of the post. Minutes later Battie’s impressive run and shot was again turned round the post by Matt Petts. Pushing forward ambitiously City were susceptible at the back from long balls forward and Luke Badiali was soon called into action to save at the near post. In particular Farnham’s Matt Glass was a handful throughout and had several good shooting opportunities. In an eventful opening the hardworking Matt Anton dispossessed a defender and cutting in from an acute angle he opted to square the ball instead of taking on the shot. Goalkeepers at both ends were called into action on 20 minutes; firstly Badiali saved well at his near post, before seconds later Jack Battie forced Petts into an excellent double save. On the half hour Connor French’s defence splitting pass found Adam Nditi whose effort as he advanced on goal was again thwarted by Petts. Nobody watching Guildford City in recent weeks will have been surprised that it was the home side who eventually took the lead. So often periods of dominance have gone unrewarded only for the opposition to capitalise, and so it happened once again. A high ball forward was headed back towards his own goal by James “Dickie” Davies, only for the impressive Matt Glass to latch onto the ball and round Badiali to slide the ball home to give the home side an unlikely lead.
The home side certainly upped the ante in the second period. In the early stages of the half especially City were pushed back on their heels for periods as Farnham went forward. City’s Matt Anton worked tirelessly up front to provide an outlet but too often was becoming isolated. Farnham’s James Thomas blazed over from a good position before the game’s momentum changed. Harry Driver’s energy off the bench saw the visitors keeping better possession and City received just reward on 72 minutes when Sanchez Benali’s cross from the right was headed home at full stretch by the diving Connor French. Having fought back into the game it was important not to undo the hard work with careless defending. Nevertheless only a brilliant diving save from Luke Badiali kept City on level terms as the latter stages resembled a basketball match with attacks in rotation. On 87 minutes it appeared that City’s hearts were to be broken as yet another deep ball was pumped into the right channel, and not for the first time Matt Glass escaped the attention of the City defence to calmly slot past Badiali. Lesser sides might have crumpled with such a late set back. Not this City side though. A new team of players they might be but there is no denying their spirit. Just as the clock ticked round to 90 minutes Matt Anton found the bustling Connor French outside the box. With deft ball skills for a big man the impressive French smashed a corker into the top corner much to the acclaim of the large travelling support. Not content with holding out for a point both sides went for the win during the lengthy stoppage time but in the end nobody would complain at a point each.
Team: Luke Badiali, Oliver Reynolds, James Davies, Liam Flanighan, Martin Dynan (Bradley Pegg 68), Jack Battie, Sanchez Benali, Darren Caesar, Matt Anton, Connor French, Adam Nditi (Harry Driver 65). Unused subs: Chad Goulter, Nathan Chambers, Callum Sexton.
Referee: Craig Kissi
Attendance – 104