Balham (0) 1, Guildford City (1) 1
by Barry Underwood
Guildford City left Wibbandune with a hard earned point against Balham on Saturday. It was a competitive, sometimes feisty, encounter where the home side often enjoyed a territorial advantage, but City’s defence stood up to the pressure well, and in their own right often played some neat football as they looked to work their way up field. The opening minutes were quiet with both sides testing each other out. Jordan Gallagher created the game’s first opening with a fine run and cross from the left that evaded the predatory Dan Stewart in the middle. Balham themselves had a great chance to break the deadlock when leading scorer Ibby Olutade shot over from a good position after the ball had been won at the far post. On the half hour Guildford took the lead and what a great finish it was! Jordan Gallagher saw Dan Stewart’s nicely timed run, and his pass was inch perfect. Stewart’s first touch took him past the advancing keeper and at an angle, and from some distance; he turned the ball home off of the inside of the post. Looking confident after the goal the Guildford ball players pushed and probed around the edge of the Balham box. From one such passage of play City won a free-kick 30 yards out but Kiye Martin’s effort was deflected wide. Minutes before the interval the home side glanced a header wide, but otherwise Kornel Ziobrowski was untroubled.
In the earlier return fixture the scores had been level at the interval but Balham had scored six unanswered goals in the second period. Certainly Balham came out for the second-half in confident fashion here as well and Ziobrowski was called upon to make a comfortable save within minutes of the restart. City’s defence was under pressure but the skipper Nemo Adams was excellent in the backline; several times covering at full stretch to avert the danger. Eventually the pressure did tell and on 55 minutes after a bout of ping pong in the box, Olutade rolled a shot inside the post. It was now anybody’s game, and both sets of supporters were giving fine vocal support. With 20 minutes remaining Robbie Mundow went down in the box and there were strong suspicions that it should have been a penalty, but the referee waved play on. Guildford were becoming frustrated, earning several yellow cards, as decisions were seemingly going against them; the lively Nathaniel Williams in particular looked to be on the receiving end of some tough challenges. Balham pushed hard for a winner in the last 10 minutes, and they did glance a header wide from a free header. On 82 minutes Dan Stewart had the ball in the net after a fine move, but the “goal” was disallowed for offside. With three minutes remaining Jordan Gallagher did well to reach the by-line. His low cross was parried at the near post by Neish and the ball fell agonisingly just behind the lurking Nathaniel Williams. In stoppage time another passing move gave Dan Stewart a shooting chance from outside the box but his dipping effort cleared the crossbar. In the cold light of day this will be a deserved point for each side, and City will go into Christmas with just one defeat in the last seven games.
Team: Kornel Ziobrowski, Chris Tancock, Josh Burrowes, Luke Beale, Nemo Adams, David Opoku, Nathaniel Williams, Kiye Martin (Luke Simmonds 75), Dan Stewart, Robbie Mundow (Miguel Anderson 86), Jordan Gallagher. Unused sub: Andre Morais.
Referee: Mark Edwards.