Ascot United (0) 0, Guildford City (0) 3
by Barry Underwood
Oh my what a performance! Guildford City have gained a reputation as party poopers after souring Ascot’s grand opening of their new 3G pitch. Watched by a 400+ crowd City rose to the challenge of facing the unbeaten league leaders, and in a magnificent performance of flowing football claimed a three goal victory. In 2017 City similarly spoiled big spending Walton & Hersham’s party at the opening of their new ground and also by a 3-0 scoreline. This has been a strange season for City thus far. A mean defence certainly but with goals harder to come by. But regular watchers will know just what Guildford can do, and that their early season league position is entirely false.
As you would expect from a side top of the table with 22 points from a possible 24, Ascot started the match in confident fashion. It was soon obvious that there were two footballing styles on display. Guildford playing their passing, possession football, and the home side favouring a more direct style that has clearly stood them in good stead this season. Ascot forced early corners and set pieces which exerted pressure on the City defence. On several occasions Zack Basey chose to punch clear with mixed success as Ascot looked to continually get the ball back in the box. On 24 minutes a rare error in defence forced Basey into a fine save and James Haworth lifted the loose ball over the bar. Minutes later from a free-kick just outside the box Jon Denton shot narrowly wide. Ascot’s Louis Bouwers also had a good chance when a free-kick eluded a number of bodies in the box. Late in the half Guildford suddenly sprung into life in an offensive sense. In a quick break forward Dan Harding and Isy Nzelo combined to give Eli Ogunseye a shooting chance which was parried for a corner. From the resulting set piece the ball fell to Dan Stewart who forced Sam Gray into a diving save. Seconds before the half-time break Dan Harding curled a 20 yard free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.
Guildford maintained their attacking approach after the break, and within three minutes of the restart they went ahead. Dan Harding released Dan Stewart who shot low into the corner of the net from 20 yards. Minutes later City came close to a second when Billy Irving’s header from a corner was cleared off the line. Then in one of several key moments in the game Guildford’s Wayne Ridgley was dismissed for a second yellow card. Ridgley’s first booking had been unlucky and there was thus a sense of injustice. So Guildford were down to 10 men with 35 minutes remaining. Could the visitors see the match out? There was for a period a sense of “defending what we have”. Zack Basey saved well with his legs and in another defining moment Billy Irving brilliantly cleared a goal bound effort off the line. But generally Ascot were restricted to long range efforts, although Basey was once again forced to save well with his legs. Guildford’s Leavan Sullivan did see a header from a corner bounce up and over the crossbar, but on 83 minutes City’s nerves were calmed. With Ascot pushing forward it was inevitable gaps would be created at the back. Dan Stewart took advantage by twisting around a defender and shooting beyond the advancing Gray. On 89 minutes Eli Ogunseye picked up a loose ball in midfield and took off through a huge gap to bear down on goal where he coolly slotted past Gray. The travelling Sweeney behind the goal were ecstatic and within minutes their celebrations continued at the final whistle.
Team: Zack Basey, Sean Mason, Isy Nzelo, Theo Woodhouse, Leavan Sullivan, Billy Irving, Wayne Ridgley, Ryan Dacres-Smith (Josh Everard 86), Dan Harding (Cyril Ocansey 65), Dan Stewart (Kiyanu Pillay 88), Eli Ogunseye.
Referee: Conor Fanelli
Attendance – 396