Bookham 6 – 1 Guildford City

ANOTHER away game, another thumping for the luckless City. Failing to learn the lessons of the match against Molesey, Guildford were once again guilty of some shocking defending which allowed their opponents to run riot. Even worse, they actually established a lead early in the game, courtesy of a Goal of the Season contender from Craig Moore, but threw it away during a match which at one point looked like it would have to be abandoned due to a bad injury to Aneel Azeem.

As usual there were a small but determined group of travelling fans at this game, amongst them myself. In fact I had chosen to include watching City against Bookham as part of the celebrations for my 30th birthday bash – what could go wrong? Bookham were only a few points above City in the table so I was confident we would see a competitive game and maybe a City win. The match had to be kicked off at 2pm due to problems with the floodlights at Meadowbank but that still enabled us to sink a few pints at the White Hart in Dorking with Mr Pegman, before heading over to the ground.

The home side dominated the opening exchanges but it was City who opened the scoring in the 8th minute courtesy of a wonderful goal from Craig Moore. Receiving the ball in space on the edge of the penalty area, he hit a curling, dipping shot which appeared to be laser-guided towards the top corner. Lions goalkeeper, Dean Cupit never stood a chance. Two minutes later Guildford had the chance to increase their lead from a freekick but an Andy Wylde header was comfortably gathered by the keeper. Bookham re-established their dominance in the middle of the pitch however and started to exert pressure on their opponents. On the quarter hour mark, they won a corner which was cleared by the City defence with the rebound being blazed over and two minutes later they levelled the scores. Lions striker, Mark Jarman controlled a ball some forty yards out, beat the flat footed City backline and finished with an excellent strike from the edge of the box. Two minutes later the home side had another corner which a player at the far post couldn’t quite get on target and were unlucky not to score again a few moments later – a last gasp challenge from a City defender rescuing the situation. Guildford really were on the back foot now and didn’t help themselves by giving possession away cheaply time and again – one such lapse of concentration nearly allowing Alex McGregor to score another screamer from the edge of the box, but luckily the shot went wide. On 28 minutes Bookham nearly lobbed Dave Tidy with a spectacular freekick from the edge of the area and it was no surprise when they finally went ahead a minute later. A corner was swung in by Billy Ramsay and the City defence yet again were caught napping, allowing Jarman to stab home from close range.

With all the chances and possession the home side were enjoying, this game was rapidly threatening to become another ‘Molesey’. City, with their confidence no doubt shot to pieces were now pretty much powerless to stop their hosts creating chances. Two minutes after the goal, a Bookham corner was delivered low into the Guildford area and only just cleared by some desperate defending. Another corner duly arrived a few moments later and this time the Lions really should have made it 3-1 – Jarman delaying his hat-trick by contriving to hit the bar from 6 yards out with the goal gaping. Luckily for Guildford there was a brief interlude at this stage and they started to keep the ball a bit better and even make some sorties into the opposition half – the culmination coming in the 40th minute when Aneel Azeem won a corner which was headed over the bar by Joe Loyza. Back came the Lions though and, a minute before halftime, they made it 3-1 – Sam Currie firing in a pinpoint cross for Chris Woodward to head home past the helpless Dave Tidy. The half at least finished with a chance for the visitors – Matt Grave being brought down on the edge of the area – but the freekick went behind without troubling the keeper.

After a positive start, things were looking quite bleak for the City at half time, although there was always the sensational result at Camberley to give hope to even the most pessimistic City fan (ie Mr Pegman!) There was a chance to engage in a little banter with the home fans – ‘book em!’ being a particular favourite which my friend Tom (a lapsed City fans who I was hoping to encourage back to the colours on a regular basis – fat chance now) thought was hilarious! The beer was also flowing quite freely at this point and indeed had at least acted as some sort of anaesthetic to the horrors taking place on the pitch.

The match kicked off again and any hope the City fans had of a quick goal to bring them back into the game evaporated within a few minutes. The home side started a smooth passing move which culminated in a good slide rule pass from Bookham’s right wing being clinically put away by Billy Ramsey. At 4-1 it was a little late for the visitors to start trying to get back into the game but try they did with Aneel causing particular difficulties to Bookham. Perhaps because of this he was fouled quite badly by Sam Currie on the byline in the 57th minute. From looking like a nasty challenge, things escalated when it became clear that Aneel could not get up, complaining of severe pains in his back. This was too potentially serious not to involve the professionals and an ambulance was duly called. Poor Aneel stayed on the ground for nearly an hour, shivering away until he could be attached to a special inflatable stretcher and taken to hospital. Luckily the verdict was a twisted a muscle in his back, rather than any damage to his spine so that was at least one piece of good news to come from the afternoon.

Surely, with the floodlights out of action, the match would have to be called off? No, as if by magic, they flickered into life (well enough unfortunately to make the pitch reasonably visible) and after a break of well over an hour, play resumed with a City freekick from the byline, which was headed wide by Joe Loyza. The unlikely comeback was clearly not going to happen and as if to underline this Bookham scored twice more – Mark Jarman running on to a through ball to beat the City defenders and complete his hat trick in the 65th minute and Jordan Buche completing the rout three minutes from time after the Guildford defence were yet again caught flat-footed.

Dave Tidy must now transform this increasingly timid looking side, restore their fighting mentality and maybe bring in some new faces, if City are to win the all important match against Cobham on 27 December.

BOOKHAM: D. Cupit; S. Currie; R. Bhogal; D. Oliver; S. Padgett; A. McGregor (sub J. Piercy, 57); T. Moffat; D. Carnota; M. Jarman (sub J. Buche, 75); C. Woodward; W. Ramsey

Subs: J. Vangelder; R. Davis; W. Aburn

GUILDFORD CITY: D. Tidy; P. Bartholomew; M. Burns; A. Smillie; A. Wylde; M. Beard; A. Vine; C. Moore; M. Grave; J. Loyza; A. Azeem (sub L. Passmore, 57)

Subs: J. Whitaker