Banstead Athletic (1) 2, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
It was a rain and windswept afternoon at Merland Rise, and referee Sam Gregory’s first decision was to determine whether the pitch was playable as water had started to gather on the still sun-baked surface. The decision to play was correct but it seemed that the Guildford side took some time to get accustomed to the prevailing conditions. The hosts went into the game in second position and still unbeaten in the league and they looked an organised outfit from the off.
Much of the first half saw Banstead in possession with the City side living on scraps and struggling to make headway. Early on the home side saw a dangerous cross zip across the goalmouth and midfielder Joe Blendall fire a shot goal wards that Liam Beach pushed round for a corner. Banstead took the lead on 24 minutes when from a free-kick the ball found Joe Cheeseman at the back post from where he made no mistake. Would going behind spur the visitors into action? It very nearly did on 29 minutes when from City’s best move of the half Kyen Nicholas netted only to be ruled very narrowly offside. For a long spell both sides pushed and probed to no real effect, until in the final moments of the half both sides came to life. Luke Beale made a tremendous block to prevent a goal bound effort, whilst City set up a shooting chance from Bobby Webbe who failed to find enough power to worry Jack Minchin in the home goal. In stoppage time Liam Beach saved spectacularly following a corner to give City a fighting chance in the second period.
Without doubt Guildford were vastly improved after the break. On 52 minutes Eli Ogunseye did well on the right and from his cross Nemo Adams – still up from a corner – attempted to round Minchin but was thwarted by an outstretched arm. Guildford now had more possession and Evan Lopes on the left started to see more ball. Despite this possession however they just couldn’t break down the home defence and Minchin in the home goal had a relatively quiet afternoon. As City pushed forward in search of an equaliser gaps started to appear at the back and on the hour Banstead twice came close; a sublime ball into the box just eluded Cheeseman and following a break from a corner a shot went wide of the post. On 65 minutes Banstead smashed an effort that clipped the top of the crossbar before finally on 72 minutes the second goal came. A long ball forward was missed in defence giving a chance for Scott Day to be teed up and he made no mistake from 25 yards. Two goals down notwithstanding Guildford’s travelling Sweeney got behind the team and on 75 minutes Kyen Nicholas’s cross/shot was palmed out. Try as they might good approach play wasn’t converted into chances on goal, and Guildford will go away, lick their wounds, and know that next time it could all be very different.
Team: Liam Beach, Sean Mason, Isy Nzelo (Ric Campbell 80), Jack Battie, Nemo Adams, Luke Beale, Eli Ogunseye (Victor Cardenas 82), Bobby Webbe (Daniel Morais 85), Kyen Nicholas, Kiye Martin, Evan Lopes.
Referee: Sam Gregory