Guildford City (0) 0, Sutton Common Rovers (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
Sutton Commons Rovers effected a classic case of smash and grab at the Spectrum on Monday. Guildford might have dominated in terms of territory, possession and chances, but in the crucial skill of putting the ball in the back of the net it was the visitors who reigned supreme. Despite the best efforts of the overnight Storm Katie the pitch at the Spectrum was in eminently playable condition. Proof again that the drainage works undertaken in the autumn have been effective, and a snub in the nose to those critics of the pitch that this game was one of only two to proceed in the CCL, with eight other home clubs left kicking their heels with unplayable pitches. SCR’s pre-match was not ideal as Katie had done her best to thwart the Sutton based club’s match preparations with fallen trees on rail lines causing some players to arrive at the Spectrum just minutes before the start.
It would have been a fair assumption that given their preparation SCR would have been at sixes and sevens in the early stages. When Tom O’Connor slid Matt Anton through on the left in the second minute that looked to be the case but keeper Sam Freeman dealt comfortably with Anton’s shot from the angle. Two minutes was all that was needed for the visitor’s to settle and throughout the match they looked a well organised side across the pitch, and despite the positive possession stats City found it hard to break SCR down. As the game developed Guildford resorted to long range shots on goal and from one on 20 minutes they did come close; Tarome Hemmings smashing a low drive against the foot of the post. On the half-hour SCR had their first real sight of goal when Martin Dynan uncharacteristically missed a clearance and former City striker Andy White found himself through on goal but Nic Taylor was equal to the task saving well low down. Minutes later City had their best chance of the half and only Darren Caesar will know how he headed Tom O’Connor’s cross wide from in front of goal.
At the interval there was considerable speculation the Guildford would kick-on and gain some reward for their possession. Within a minute of the restart Matt Anton had another shot saved from an angle, and minutes later Chris James-Mason was brought down on the edge of the box setting up free-kick specialist Tarome Hemmings, although on this occasion his effort curled over the crossbar. Frustration was creeping in and City dropped off the pace a little, but it was entirely against the run of play when SCR broke to score what would prove to the winner. The visitor’s Kobe Botwe, another former City player, broke on the right and his well-timed crossfield ball found Richard Smith on the left. Darryl Siaw it seemed had the matter in hand, showing him the outside, but somehow Smith got a shot away from an angle that ended up nestling in the back of the net. There was still time for City to gain some reward but credit to the visitors for their disciplined defence. With nine minutes remaining Guildford had a golden chance to get back on level terms. Again it was Tom O’Connor who fired over a great cross but you knew it wasn’t to be City’s day when Jack May missed a header at the near post, and Matt Anton could only put the ball over the bar at the back post. Play was becoming more frenetic around the SCR goal and Darryl Siaw’s low cross into the box just couldn’t find a red and white player. As the minutes counted down Matt Anton battled into the area but Sam Freeman was able to smother the ball at the Guildford striker’s feet. In the final seconds SCR once again broke away and showing his frustration at events Darryl Siaw made several attempts to halt the goal bound striker from behind, eventually succeeding and earning himself in the process a red card.
Team: Nic Taylor, Darryl Siaw, Harry Mills, Tom O’Connor, Martin Dynan, Tarome Hemmings, Sanchez Benali (Chad Goulter 81), Darren Caesar (Adam Nditi 81), Matt Anton, Jack Battie, Chris James-Mason (Jack May 60). Unused subs: Shaun Smart, Tom Booth.
Referee: Luke Donaldson
Attendance – 98