Burnham 3 – 2 Guildford City

Click here for match photos
Click here for match photos

Burnham all but clinched the Central division championship title by virtue of a battling victory over a game Guildford City side. On a warm spring like day City were in determined mood. On a rock hard pitch with an uncertain bounce, flowing, passing football would be at a premium.

Looking to score early to calm their nerves, Burnham had the first goal scoring opportunity. In just the second minute a cross from the right eluding City’s defence for Stafford Palmer to drill just wide. Moments later at the other end a fine build up on the left led to Simon Cooper’s first time effort being comfortably saved. A big powerful side Burnham looked purposeful going forward with twin strikers Ryan Bird and Stafford Palmer looking lively. It was no surprise therefore when after 18 minutes the home side took the lead; Palmer winning a 50:50 ball with Antony Hall and placing the ball into the corner beyond a covering Jamie Thoroughgood. After a speculative long range effort from Simon Cooper was tipped over, Burnham grabbed a two goal advantage. James Dobson escaped the defenders attention on the left to lift the ball over Antony Hall into the net. City’s fighting qualities then came to the fore and not sitting back Scott Todd was brought down in the 30th minute as he drove to the by-line. Dan Moody stepped up to net his 30th goal of the season from the penalty spot. On 40 minutes City almost forced an equaliser when Will Heavey forced a mistake, leading to Scott Todd playing a low ball across the area, just eluding Sean Rivers, and although Heavey met the ball at the far post he was unable to tuck the chance home.

Burnham had much of the play in the second period, but at no stage were City out of the game. It looked game over though after 55 minutes when Burnham regained their two goal advantage. A deep free-kick from the right was bravely converted at the far post by home skipper Tom Willment . The home fans heaved a sigh of relief as the way to the championship seemed clear. In an effort to get Guildford’s attack moving, City’s Antony Hall took some risks as the last line of defence and once or twice was fortunate to escape punishment. But such was Guildford’s desire to push forward, that on 70 minutes from a short corner on the left, Dan Moody unleashed a curling effort that zipped just wide. After chances at both ends, Simon Cooper posted his late entry for goal of the season. From a free-kick just five yards into the opponents half, Cooper totally deceived Mike Watkins in the home goal to bring the deficit back to one. Now with just a one goal advantage, nerves were jangling amongst home players, officials and supporters. City went forward until the end looking for an equaliser but in the end Burnham saw the game out. Within minutes news of other teams results filtered through and celebrations started on the pitch. Barring quite extraordinary results in the final matches Burnham will be Southern League Division One champions!

Ian catches the reactions of manager Kev Rayner & midfielder Will Heavey after the close defeat at Burnham

Guildford City
Antony Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Ben Rayner, Simon Cooper, Jamie Thoroughgood, Will Heavey (Tyrone Newton 58), Dan Moody, Junior Kaffo, Sean Rivers (Casey McCabe 81), Scott Todd (Mike Woods 81), Dammy Bada.
Unused substitutes: Bruce McPhail, Mike Hall.
Cautioned: Ben Rayner, Jamie Thoroughgood, Junior Kaffo
Sent off: Mike Hall

Referee: Kieran Bailey