AFC Hayes (1) 3, Guildford City (2) 2
by Barry Underwood
There are some occasions when the Gods are just not with you, and manager Chris Balchin and the travelling Sweeney will feel that this was one of those times. Minutes before kick-off as the players left the field after the warm up the skipper Nemo Adams fell and sprained his ankle causing a late reshuffle in defence. City’s backline was already missing first choice full-backs Chris Tancock and Josh Burrowes, both on holiday, together with the injured David Burton and Shaun Johnson. Manfully, after Adams late withdrawal, the returning Jack Battie stepped into the heart of defence from his normal midfield position and performed excellently. From the start it was an open game with the ball flowing from end to end. Guildford took the lead after just five minutes when Jordan Gallagher’s quality free-kick was met by George Pilbeam who glanced a header inside the back post. The home side enjoyed a period of pressure and the makeshift City defence had to defend a number of corners. On 16 minutes City came close to extending their lead when Kiye Martin saw an effort from outside the box just clear the crossbar. A minute later however the scores were level when Rennel Dennis converted a right wing cross at the far post. Within minutes Guildford responded with a first goal for the club from left back Will Kouadia. A low cross from Dan Stewart found George Pilbeam with his back to goal and the ball fell kindly to Kouadio who netted from 15 yards. Sadly for City Pilbeam was injured shortly after the goal and added to Guildford’s woes by limping from the field on the half hour. Both sides had opportunities late in the half. The Hayes captain Ryan Phillips saw a half volley just clear the bar after a scramble, and somehow Luke Beale failed to convert from a yard out following a corner.
For the start of the second half substitute Sanchez Benali entered the fray following another injury, this time to Kiye Martin. Despite the changes Guildford looked more settled after the break. On the hour the elusive Evan Lopes set Jordan Gallagher up for an effort which was superbly blocked at full stretch by the Hayes defence. The home side got back on level terms on 65 minutes when a loose pass in midfield enabled them to break. As the striker attempted to round the keeper Luke Badiali brought him down for what was a clear penalty. Rennell Dennis stepped up to convert the spot kick to bring Hayes level. City almost responded when Jordan Gallagher cut in from the left. As he got to the by-line just yards from the near post he chose to shoot. The shot hit the post via the keeper’s foot and off for what should have been a corner. Hayes responded immediately and Luke Beale did well to clear off the line. On 82 minutes a misdirected pass put the City defence under pressure, and Beale was forced to bring down the Hayes player who would otherwise have had a clear route to goal. Beale was shown the predictable red card and Guildford was forced to see out the remaining minutes with ten men. To round off a disastrous afternoon for City the home side scored a late winner when a cross from the right deflected off Louie Downey and into the net. Guildford threw everything forward in search of a deserved equaliser but it wasn’t to be.
Team: Luke Badiali, David Opoku, Will Kouadio, Luke Beale, Jack Battie, Louie Downey, Dan Stewart, Kiye Martin (Sanchez Benali 46), George Pilbeam (Evan Lopes 31), Jordan Gallagher, Nathaniel Williams (Andre Morais 88).
Referee: Amadou Jallow
Attendance – 39