British Army U-23 4 – 4 Guildford City

What a thoroughly entertaining match this friendly encounter between the Army and Guildford City turned out to be.  This was the Army side’s final match workout before the onset of the Inter-Services championship and both they, and Guildford were eager to hone their fitness for more serious encounters ahead.  Played on the military’s 3G pitch, following overnight heavy rain, both sides made the most of the fast, even surface.

The young Army side came out all guns blazing, and for the opening period their pace up front was giving City’s defence plenty to think about.  City did have chances and both Dan Moody and Luke Bradnick saw shots saved by the home keeper; the latter a quite brilliant diving effort!  On 20 minutes the Army deservedly opened the scoring when their pacey centre-forward beat the defensive line to slide the ball past Antony Hall in the visiting goal.  Moments later it was 2-0.  City failed to clear a cross from the right, and although Antony Hall saved at point blank range, the Army striker was able to smash home the rebound.  Antony Hall departed the action at this point, having damaged his shoulder.  His replacement was triallist goalkeeper Aaron Hennessey who looked assured for the remainder of the game.  Minutes before the interval the Army had a golden chance to take a three goal lead.  Again the home centre-forward burst through but his lobbed effort, fortunately for Guildford, cleared the crossbar.

Whatever Kevin Rayner said at the half-time interval City were transformed in the second period.  As if to issue a warning, Dan Moody immediately hit the home crossbar.  A minute later Dammy Bada’s cracking cross from the left was met by captain for the night Jack Guilford, who converted from close range.  In an amazing turn round City were level after 51 minutes.  Tom Penson’s long ball was headed on by Jack Guilford, into the path of Dan Moody who rounded the Army keeper for the equaliser.  Guildford very nearly went further ahead when Jamie Thoroughgood’s headed effort was well saved.  On the hour, and with both sides throwing substitutes into the fray, it was City’s triallist wingmen who took the eye.  19 year old duo Mike Wood and Charlie Findlay settled well and caused the Army problems down both flanks.  By now dominating proceedings, City went further ahead when Mike Wood latched onto a pinpoint pass, to cut in and shoot low past the Army keeper.  On 66 minutes Dan Moody was again put in the clear and his lobbed finish put Guildford 4-2 ahead.  Credit then to the Army who pulled a goal back on 74 minutes with a 25 yard effort that gave Aaron Hennessey no chance.  Minutes before the end Jamie Thoroughgood was almost the unlikeliest of match winners.  Jack Guilford’s superb flick put Thoroughgood clear but his left foot shot missed the post by inches, when probably a right shot was more advised.  To round the game off the Army equaliser came in the dying moments, when again Hennessey was given no chance with a quite brilliant long range effort.

A hugely entertaining game for those present.  Very valuable match practice and highly encouraging performances from Youth team full-back Ben Wicherek, and young triallists Mike Wood and Charlie Findlay.

Post-match reaction from Kevin Rayner.

Guildford City:
Antony Hall (Aaron Hennessey 25), Tom Penson, Ben Wicherek (Charlie Findlay 58), Tony Chaplin, Jamie Thoroughgood, Casey McCabe (Mike Wood 45), Dan Moody, Bruce McPhail, Jack Guilford, Luke Bradnick, Dammy Bada.