Pre-Season Update V
It is now seven weeks since the commencement of pre-season training, and we have all but reached the end of the preparation period. Two further friendlies have taken place during this week. Last Tuesday we played Bagshot on the 3G at Aldershot. The side got back some rhythm with a 3-0 victory after a more disappointing performance against a useful Horsham YMCA side the previous Saturday. Kieran Campbell opened the scoring early on with an absolute pile driver from 30 yards. Some nice football was played and there were a number of other good chances during the first-half. It was Campbell again who, minutes into the second period, nudged City into a two goal lead. A defensive error gave him possession in a dangerous area and he calmly lobbed the ball over the stranded Bagshot keeper. Campbell later completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Chad Goulter was brought down in the act of shooting.
On Saturday we made the long journey to the south coast to face Newhaven FC. As with the previous Saturday the occasion was marked by incessant rain, and full credit to the travelling Sweeney who made the journey, as they have done throughout pre-season. The match itself was excellent preparation for the new season. City for their part were pretty impressive. In terms of organisation and attacking threat this was possibly the best performance in pre-season. If the final ball into the box had been a little better on occasions a win would probably have ensued. In the end though both sides will have been satisfied with a 1-1 draw.
On the playing front there are one or two minor injuries which should clear up in time for the FA Cup. The big news of the week though has been the re-signing of former club favourite Dan Stewart. In our first season back in the Combined Counties League in 2014-15 we found ourselves in a rather perilous position towards the foot of the table. Thankfully from February, Don Chislett’s side, with several key signings, went on an excellent run to avoid the dreaded drop. Dan Stewart was one of those signings and his 16 goals from 17 appearances was a key factor in the team’s survival. Despite our tremendous run of form it seemed that all of our rivals were also picking up points at a rate of knots. In the end to be sure of safety we needed to win our final game at Sutton Common. Goals that day from Anthony Baker, and in the final moments, and to the great acclaim of our large travelling support, Dan Stewart burst through and slotted the ball home to fully confirm our survival.
We are now entering the final week of pre-season. On Tuesday (2 August) we face our local rivals Godalming Town at Wey Court in the annual Axtell Trophy challenge match. Kick-off is 7.45pm, and the match will go to penalties if the scores are level at the end of 90 minutes. The players then enjoy a social evening together on Thursday to round off the hard work of pre-season, and to look forward together to whatever the new season brings.
Next Saturday, the 5 August, the season starts in earnest with our trip to the Isle of Wight to face Newport (IoW) of the Wessex League in the FA Cup. Travel bookings on the “official” trip have now closed and supporters not booked are advised to travel by ferry as foot passengers and take public transport to Newport. By all accounts the lads won’t be short of support on the Island. As well as the 25 fans travelling with the team, we understand that another group from the Woodbridge Hill Club are travelling independently. Similarly we have heard of several Guildford residents who will be holidaying on the Island at that time and will be taking in the game to give their support.