Hartley Wintney (0) 1, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
It was with some trepidation that Guildford City travelled to Green Lane to face runaway league leaders Hartley Wintney. Hartley are looking to repeat last season’s championship success and they currently sit 12 points clear of the side sitting in second place. Meanwhile Guildford’s performance in midweek against Colliers Wood had been hugely disappointing, and Steve Dormer and his management team were looking for the right response from their players. In the event there was no doubt that the players did rise to the challenge. In the first period City were the better of the sides, and although Hartley were stronger in the second-half City will feel aggrieved that they didn’t take at least a point from the match. It was in fact a game of few clear chances on goal from either side. It was City who started the brighter and from Kiye Martin’s curling free-kick Alex Rose got a shot away which unfortunately hit Greg Haydon who was in an offside position. It was Kiye Martin who again supplied a cross for what proved to be City’s best chance of the match. His effort into the box was spilled by goalkeeper Jake Maddocks but Shawn Lyle was caught flat-footed and the ball was nudged off his toe in a last ditch challenge. Debutant Lee Hall then saw a 20 yard effort go wide after a fine build up from Martin and Rashid Obbadi. It wasn’t until 30 minutes were on the clock that the home side had their first real sight of goal. City defender Greg Haydon made a rare slip allowing Sam Argent a clear opening. Impressively though Haydon recovered well and managed a goal saving tackle. Minutes before the interval an Alex Rose cross was met at the near post by Shawn Lyle, who couldn’t quite find space to get a shot away.
After the interval Hartley had more possession but still City defended well. Every player in red and white was working hard but none more so than midfield duo Dan Akinwande and Lee Hall. A minute after the break Jacob Lambe shot wide and minutes later the visitors felt that they had a strong shout for a penalty when Shawn Lyle was physically squeezed out by two Hartley defenders. The home side lifted their game, especially so after Ian Jones had run at pace past a number of City players. As Jones approached the edge of the box he let fly but Matt Petts was equal to the challenge saving with his legs. Finally, and to the undoubted relief of the home support, Hartley notched the only goal of the match on 73 minutes. Steve Noakes long throw was headed on at the near post and the prolific Sam Argent headed home from close range for his 27th goal of the season. Still no side was giving any quarter and with five minutes remaining Ross Cook was sent off for the second consecutive game for a poor challenge. As the game entered stoppage time Greg Haydon shot wide from outside the box and several other high balls were directed into the box. But all to no avail and Hartley march on towards a second league championship title.
Team: Matt Petts, Tom Booth, Alex Rose, Greg Haydon, Darryl Siaw, Rashid Obbadi, Kiye Martin, Dan Akinwande, Lee Hall, Shawn Lyle, Jacob Lambe. Unused subs: Jordan Goater, Dan Choules.
Referee: Hugh Gilroy