City are now in their fourth week of pre-season training, having first gathered at Sutherland Park in mid-June whilst the World Cup and Love Island was still the priority in some eyes. For the first time in some 5-6 years, the bulk of last season’s squad returned to add some continuity to the team building. New coaches Scott Kemp, Suj Kheira and Dean Hurlow (GK) welcomed the guys with open arms and as we moved into July the friendly fixtures commenced.
Pre-season friendlies: First up we journeyed to the Xcel stadium to face Walton Casuals who having gained promotion will be playing their football in the Southern League Premier Division. For the first match against higher opponents, it was an impressive performance. Casuals won with two second-half goals; the last of which came with the last kick of the match. Both sides missed a penalty and manager Chris Balchin was well satisfied with the first run out. Three days later City made the long rush hour journey to Thornton Heath to face ex-City manager Kevin Rayner and his AFC Croydon side. It’s fair to say it was a physical encounter; too physical frankly for a pre-season game. City though played some great football in the first period without scoring, and as so often happens a missed clearance gave the home side the chance to go ahead on 44 minutes. The second period was scrappier but Michael Campbell pulled City back level on 65 minutes from the penalty spot. Late in the game, Jordan Gallagher saw another penalty brilliantly saved, whilst Kieran Wright hit the crossbar from three yards out. Overall though you couldn’t argue with a 1-1 draw. Last weekend we travelled to the Sussex coast to play Newhaven at their impressive Trafalgar ground. In an entertaining and even game the home side came out on top 3-1; again the last goal coming from the last kick. City’s goal came in the second half from Dan Stewart but the visitors were somewhat unlucky also hitting the post on two occasions. On Tuesday of this week we gathered at the Surrey Sports Park to face Epsom & Ewell. Both sides showed attacking intent and defence wasn’t the strongest feature of the evening. In a game of tit for tat scoring City eventually ran out winner 5-4. Michael Campbell and Romario Hart both scored twice, and Luke Beale netted from close range. City keeper Arjuna Adlam saved a second half penalty.
Please listen below to hear Tom Hudson’s interview with Chris Balchin. Chris explains how pre-season has progressed so far.
Remaining pre-season games: Tomorrow City visit newly promoted Three Bridges who are managed by former City player Martin Dynan. Please note that kick-off is at 1pm at Jubilee Walk. Our match at Horsham YMCA on Tuesday has been cancelled owing to the poor state of the home side’s pitch. A replacement fixture is being sought and so please watch Twitter for updates. On Saturday 28 July we play Woodley United at Ash manor school, kick-off at 3pm, and on Tuesday 31 July we play Godalming Town in the annual Axtell Trophy match.
CCL and FA fixtures: League fixtures start on Saturday 4 August. We shall find out who we face on 24 July when the fixtures are published. Meanwhile on Saturday 11 August we host Petersfield Town in the FA Cup. The winners of that tie will go on to visit Fleet Town. Similarly on Saturday 1 September we host Rochester United in the FA Vase. Please be aware that due to refurbishment at the Spectrum we will be playing our home matches at Godalming Town until the middle of September.
Photos Provided by A.G MEDIA