Abbey Rangers (3) 5, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
After a decent performance in defeat against champions elect Westfield, Guildford City went into this match at Addlestone Moor confident of getting back on a winning track. Within seconds of the kick-off it was evident that if City were to gain a result they would have to be exceptional on the night. Right from the start Abbey came out of the traps fired up and full of energy. Within 90 seconds they had won two corners and seen an effort on goal narrowly miss the post. The Abbey volunteers had done a great job during the day getting the pitch in playable order after the melting snow had caused some concern. As if to repay those loyal club persons Abbey were out enthusing the visitors and try as they might Guildford were struggling to make inroads playing their customary passing football. Paul Hodges, scorer of 30+ Southern League goals for Hartley Wintney this season, was available for Abbey courtesy of dual registration, and during his hour on the pitch he looked a class apart. Danny Hartlebury shot over for Abbey on nine minutes, but Guildford was able to respond with Jordan Gallagher seeing a left foot effort saved by Liam Stone. City had another half chance when David Opoku’s cross was met on the volley by Dan Stewart but to his annoyance he miscued and the effort spiralled wide of the post. On the half hour Abbey took the lead and there was good fortune attached. A cross from the right being volleyed into the net by a City defender as he attempted to clear. The hard-working Abbey side were encouraged by the goal, and in the remaining 15 minutes before the interval they scored twice more. The first of these goals was converted by the lurking Hodges who netted from a rebound off the keeper, and Hodges again scored a second at the back post.
Any chance of Guildford coming back into the game after the break was dealt a hard blow on 48 minutes. Bradley Sweeney received the ball in the right channel and with little adieu he smashed a low effort from 30 yards which beat Luke Badiali at the near post. Louie Downey again stood out in midfield for the visitors with his work rate and he didn’t deserve to be on the wrong end of the result. George Pilbeam headed wide on 62 minutes and he led the line well whilst living on scraps. City stabilised in the second period although being four goals to the good Abbey could have been expected to take their foot off the gas. In stoppage time at the end the home side grabbed their fifth with a direct free-kick that flashed into the net to round off a comprehensive victory. The Guildford players must now lift themselves. With eight games remaining they are in danger of slipping into the relegation battle. Regular supporters will know how well this group can play. The time for talking is over and now we must see a positive response on the pitch.
Team: Luke Badiali, David Opoku, Will Kouadio, Luke Beale, Nemo Adams, Louie Downey, Dan Stewart, Kiye Martin, George Pilbeam, Jordan Gallagher, Nathaniel Williams. Unused sub: Andre Morais.
Referee: Gareth Mays