And so the fight back begins! The 11 heroes of Guildford City stood tall when the going got tough, digging deep to depart Kayte Lane with a battling 2-0 victory. Its true City rode their luck at times but they defended magnificently and twice caught the home side with classic counter punches. Post match some may have questioned the happy scenes of hugging and hand-shaking amongst City players, officials and fans alike. But the mixture of joy and relief was shining through despite the club being written off by many. Make no mistake Guildford City Football Club is far from dead. Just one match along the road this might be, but it is a start! City fielded a bare twelve players after several late withdrawals caused by work commitments. The twelve included 18 year old Joe Thoroughgood playing his first senior match, and also the unlikely figure of 44 year old Terry Thoroughgood, a former goalkeeper in his own right, who was registered as an emergency during the day to provide a level of back-up on the bench.
Playing in their yellow away shirts City’s players shone in the gloom. In particular Jack Guilford was busying himself in his central midfield role, and his aerial ability in particular kept the home side from pressing their territorial advantage. Indeed it was Guilford who burst out of midfield with the ball at his feet early in the half but sadly amongst a tangle of feet the opportunity came to nothing. Antony Hall was called into action at the near post early in the game, and then after 23 minutes he again made a fine save when Jake Lee fired in a shot from 25 yards. On the half hour, and with the inexperienced Joe Thoroughgood being exposed at full back, Kev Rayner moved Thoroughgood forward into midfield, whilst changing Dammy Bada to right back and Omari Hibbert to left back. Territorially Bishops were dominating but City’s defence and midfield shield were doing sterling work. That is not to say Guildford didn’t venture forward. On 37 minutes Jamie Thoroughgood headed a corner back across goal leading to confusion in the home defence although eventually the ball was cleared. Minutes later it looked as if Lance Banton-Brown had broken free after winning a 50:50 tussle with the last line of defence. Sadly for City the returning striker wanted one touch too many and the chance was lost. Then just prior to the interval the home side’s Harlie Price shot low across goal to bring out a brilliant save from Hall who tipped the effort wide of the post.
Half time: Bishops Cleeve 0 – 0 Guildford City
The first opportunity of the second period fell to the visitors when Banton-Brown flicked on a high ball to young Joe Thoroughgood whose effort from the edge of the box was blocked. With Jamie Thoroughgood and Bruce McPhail enjoying excellent performances at the heart of the defence, City were soaking up the home pressure. The home side still had chances though and on 63 minutes Jake Lee hit the post after cutting in from the right. Just seconds later at the other end City won a free-kick from which Jack Guilford couldn’t quite get a firm enough touch. The next ten minute period proved to be the turning point in the game. First Bishops once again hit the woodwork from Matt William’s header, followed shortly after by Lee shooting straight at Hall from close range. By way of pay back City concluded this period by scoring a well taken goal after 73 minutes. Lance Banton-Brown picked up a half clearance and drove into the area. With the defence melting away he promptly drove a low effort under the diving body of Jamie Moore. With the home crowd stunned City made it 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining; Ben Walshe’s deep free-kick being glanced home by Banton-Brown for his second of the match. With six minutes remaining City’s Portuguese forward Nuno Pereira was very unlucky to see red for two soft yellow cards. City fans present were daring to believe that the losing run was coming to an end, and after a final save from Antony Hall, the curtain was brought down on a memorable victory.
Team: Antony Hall, Joe Thoroughgood, Dammy Bada, Bruce McPhail, Jamie Thoroughgood, Ben Walshe, Nuno Pereira, Jack Guilford, Lance Banton-Brown, Omari Hibbert, Dominic Ogun. Unused sub: Terry Thoroughgood.
Yellow card: Jack Guilford
Red card: Nuno Pereira (two yellows)
Referee: Ernie Moore
Attendance – 50