Guildford City (1) 5, Raynes Park Vale (1) 1
by Barry Underwood
This match will be remembered as the last under the managerial reign of Dean Thomas. Post-match Thomas stepped down from the hot seat after exactly one year in charge at the Spectrum. Ironically his first match in charge 12 months ago was also against Raynes Park Vale and as a further coincidence City scored five goals in both matches. On the field of play this was a game of two distinct halves. Guildford went into the match with a few new faces, having lost twin strikers Perry Coles and Matt Glass to Farnborough and long term army commitments respectively. As a consequence some people may have written City off but after a mixed first period they lifted their game and showed there is far more to this side than just one or two big name players. Guildford actually opened the match in fine fashion, enjoying the majority of the possession and both Rob Wickenden and Bobby Dormer saw long range efforts go wide of the target. For all the possession though clear chances were few and far between and it was therefore no surprise that the opening goal came from a penalty. Nathan Gordon’s run into the box was halted unfairly and Jason Thompson stepped up to slot the spot kick home. The visitors hadn’t threatened but not for the first time this season Guildford managed to turn attack into defence in the blink of an eye. A City corner was cleared and within seconds Malaki Thomas had outpaced the City defence to shoot past Luke Badiali for an equaliser. From that moment Raynes Park visibly lifted in confidence and at times City were defending backs to the wall. Debutant defender Rhys Paul twice cleared off the line in quick succession and it seemed highly likely that the visitors, led by the impressive Dan Amaju, would go ahead. But with stout defending City held out and the scores were level at the break.
After the interval City looked a different side. Marcel Henry-Francis replaced Rob Wickenden for the second period and immediately there was more threat going forward. Indeed Henry-Francis was involved in City’s second goal just a minute into the half; his low cross being converted by Shawn Clement-Peter. Ibby Akanbi’s strength gave him a shooting chance but his effort went wide, whilst the visitor’s came close when Amaju’s effort was deflected onto the post. On the hour Ibby Akanbi had a golden chance to get on the scoresheet as he battled towards goal. His first effort was saved by Ed Cornwell, and from the rebound his effort was saved again, when composure would have given him chance to round the prone body of the goalkeeper. The third goal was only delayed by seconds though as from the resulting corner Jordan Taylor dived to head home from close range. Within minutes Marcel Henry-Francis netted from a powerfully hit shot and was desperately unlucky to see his effort ruled out for a very tight offside decision. The match lost something of its intensity but it didn’t stop substitute striker Tom Bingham from scoring his first goals for the club. His first effort on 79 minutes came from nodding home a Jordan Taylor cross, and his second two minutes later came courtesy of Jack Battie’s slide rule pass and a neat side foot finish. Another comprehensive Wednesday victory and a result which seemed unlikely at the interval.
Team: Luke Badiali, Jordan Taylor, Nathan Gordon, Bobby Dormer, Rhys Paul, Jason Thompson, Shawn Clement-Peter, Will Hoare (Jack Battie 59), Rob Wickenden (Marcel Henry-Francis 46), Ibby Akanbi (Tom Bingham 65), Tom Booth. Unused subs: Kieran Trevor, Jordan Clement.
Referee: Oliver Davies
Attendance – 71