Guildford City (1) 1, Epsom & Ewell (3) 5
by Barry Underwood
Guildford’s disappointing run of defeats continued at the Spectrum when they lost heavily to promotion contenders Epsom & Ewell. It wasn’t for the want of a good start as they took the lead in the third minute of the game but it was more the way they fell away badly after going behind that shook the home support. A spirited rally after the interval saw City back with a chance but again after conceding against the run of play heads visibly went down and Epsom should have added to their tally in the final minutes. From the opening whistle Guildford went forward and from a James Davies cross Martin Dynan caused problems in the defence before the ball was cleared. Two minutes later a City corner from the right was headed on and James Davies was on hand to volley home from 10 yards for his first City goal. Although Guildford didn’t fashion any further chances they looked comfortable and certainly a match for their visitors. Then after 17 minutes a low cross from the right was missed by Martin Dynan and ace marksman Kyle Hough latched onto the ball to beat Nic Taylor from an acute angle. Almost before everybody had caught their breath City went behind. This time another low ball into the box found Daryl Cooper-Smith in acres of space and from close range he shot low into the net. Football is a confidence game and this Guildford side are not blessed with oodles of it at the moment. From playing well whilst in front, to seemingly not relishing the challenge was disappointing for many of the watching Sweeney. James Davies did well to clear for a corner at the far post, and from another Hough shot when unmarked Martin Dynan did brilliantly to head his pile driver over the bar. Relief was only temporary as from the resulting corner in the 27th minute Dan Dean rose unmarked to head home down the centre of the goal. Things went from bad to worse for the home side when shortly afterwards, and in the aftermath of a poor refereeing decision, City manager Dean Thomas was sent to the stand, and goalkeeper Nic Taylor was shown a yellow card.
To their credit words of wisdom at the interval gave City a new lease of life after the break and for near on half an hour they looked a different side. Playing with more confidence they pushed Epsom back and the visitors looked at that point as if they were content to try and hold on to their two goal advantage. Conversely there was definitely a sense that if City could force a goal a comeback would be on the cards. The problem was scoring that all important goal. Clear cut chances were few indeed, but there was a succession of half chances, none of which found their way into the net. Sanchez Benali saw a volley from the edge of the box go just wide, and Darren Caesar saw a half-volley go wide after a slow and deliberate build up. On the hour Caesar fired in a powerful low effort which didn’t stretch stand-in keeper Robert Hendry unduly. On 69 minutes Sanchez Benali’s free-kick from 30 yards glanced over off of the crossbar. As the game progressed Chad Goulter’s long throws came to the fore and from one Martin Dynan’s flick-on saw Harry Mills flick an attempt wide. After a long period of dominance it was heart breaking to concede again after 76 minutes; and the fact that it was a defensive error compounded the fact. As if with a click of the fingers some City heads went down and Epsom made it five just minutes later when substitute Tom Neale went past the last defender to shoot low past Nic Taylor. The frustrating thing is that this City side has shown guts and fortitude on a number of occasions this season, especially when playing with ten men. To fold completely in the final minutes was hugely disappointing and the visitors could and should have added another three goals in the last four minutes. I am sure there will be a lot of hard thinking post-match. It will need to have been as Guildford next move on to an away encounter at second placed Ashford Town.
Team: Nic Taylor, Darryl Siaw, James Davies, Harry Mills, Martin Dynan (Chris James-Mason 84), Tarome Hemmings (Anass Akhazzan 86), Tom Booth (Ryan Zidyana 71), Darren Caesar, Matt Anton, Chad Goulter, Sanchez Benali. Unused subs: Callum Sexton, Luke Badiali.
Referee: Oliver Davies
Attendance – 86