Knaphill (2) 4, Guildford City (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
For the second consecutive year Guildford City came away from Reddings Way on the wrong end of a disappointing score line. It is true to say that City were forced into some late changes with influential players Matt Anton (family commitment), Harry Mills (work), James Davies (broken nose but taking a place on the bench) and Jack Battie (playing for Farnborough) all missing from the starting line-up. But post-match City boss Dean Thomas was hugely disappointed at the goals conceded from set pieces. In many other aspects of the game the visitors played some encouraging football, although perhaps they didn’t trouble home keeper Richard Shelley as much as they would have liked. Shelley for his part was probably lucky to stay on the field of play. As early as the 16th minute Jack May was bearing down on goal but adjudged to be offside. Although the whistle had blown Shelley brought May down with a reckless challenge but referee Andrey Laschikov deemed that as the whistle had already blown he was content to simply talk to the miscreant goalkeeper. This wasn’t the last of a number of controversial decisions for both sides overseen by Lashchikov during the remainder of the game.
The first-half was open with the home side looking lively as they broke quickly forward. Indeed straight from kick-off they fashioned a shooting chance before 30 seconds were on the clock. For City Tom O’Connor, always a livewire on the ball, put Jack May into space but in a heavy but fair collision with Richard Shelley the ball cannoned away for a goal-kick. Knaphill took the lead after 21 minutes and it wasn’t altogether a surprise. A deep free-kick into the City box caused confusion to the extent that a spectacular overhead kick from Danny Taylor saw Knaphill nudge ahead. Guildford almost responded when O’Connor set Tarome Hemmings through on goal but his touch past Shelley took him very wide and he was only able to shoot into the side netting. On 36 minutes Knaphill went further ahead when the tall figure of Charlie Postance shot low into the net from the edge of the box. Ironically Postance spends his days working at the Guildford Spectrum. Knaphill twice came close in first half stoppage time when shots from Postance and ex-Godalming striker Jack Mazzone came agonisingly close.
City was enjoying considerable possession but defending from set pieces wasn’t proving to be a strongpoint. On 53 minutes a low corner went right across the six yard box where it was headed home at the far post by home skipper Jamie Doble who was in acres of space. City rallied and played their best football of the match for the remainder of the game. From a free-kick Darren Caesar headed just wide, and later Adam Nditi cut in from the right and shot from an acute angle when a low cross to the waiting May might have been a better option. On 75 minutes City pulled a goal back when debutant Chris James-Mason smashed a close range effort into the roof of the net. With 15 minutes remaining there was definitely a sense that City could get something from the game, as indeed they have on several occasions this season. As the game entered stoppage time a delightful flicked past from Kiyanu Pillay gave Jack May a chance on goal but he was brought down on the edge of the box; Sanchez Benali’s resulting free-kick curling over the bar. With City pushing forward it was perhaps inevitable that Knaphill would score again on the break, and they did to round things off in the third minutes of stoppage time. Nic Taylor saved the first effort but the ball fell kindly for Yassa Kabuye to convert.
Team: Nic Taylor, Shaun Smart, Adam Nditi, Darryl Siaw, Tom Booth, Chad Goulter, Sanchez Benali, Tom O’Connor, Jack May, Tarome Hemmings, Darren Caesar. Unused subs: Martin Dynan, James Davies.
Referee: Andrey Lashchikov