Chertsey Town 2 – 2 Guildford City

GUILDFORD finally ended their run of defeats with this gutsy draw against high flying (and spending) Chertsey Town.  Given that City held a 2-0 lead for part of the game, some might point to another collapse on a par with East Preston.  Not a bit of it.  In reality, whilst Guildford matched their opponents in the first half and fully deserved their 1-0 lead at the break, they were comprehensively outplayed in the second period.  Had it not been for a brilliant penalty save by Hall and a stunning goal by Jamie King out of nothing, it could well have been the Curfews running out winners by three or four goals to one.  We can only hope this improved performance bodes well for Tuesday’s match against Hanworth Villa.

Having had so many home games in recent weeks, it was nice to finally have an away game and the chance to relax a bit.  Matt H and I took full advantage, supping some excellent pints of Hobgoblin and Witchcraft in the Curfews clubhouse.  We nearly got so comfortable we forgot to sort out the teamsheet but luckily Kevin reminded us just in time!!  Before we knew it the teams were ready to kick off so we made our way behind the Chertsey goal.

Guildford made a good start and within two minutes had won a corner which the Curfews did well to clear.  Inevitably the home side started to look dangerous and in the 6th minute we were reminded how dangerous John Pomroy could be when he half-volleyed a shot from ten yards out and forced a superb instinctive save by Hall – the ball being pushed behind for a corner which luckily came to nothing.  The visitors were limiting the home side’s opportunities, however, despite some blistering runs from the impressive Andre Delissier.  Danny Elgar in his first start since his return from Colliers Wood was looking particularly impressive – his crossing and deliveries from dead ball situations causing the Curfews some problems.  City had a good chance in the 20th minute when Adesina beat his marker and looked to bury the ball in the back of the net.  Unfortunately his shot was weak and easily saved, much to Sean Rivers’s annoyance as he had been running into the box unmarked.  Rivers did win a corner a few minutes later though, when an innocuous looking shot caught out Lidbury and he was forced to turn the ball round the post; as before though, the set piece came to nothing.

Guildford’s games seem to attract contentious decisions and one duly arrived in the 27th minute.  Chertsey won a freekick on the edge of their penalty area and Lidbury opted to take it quickly, blasting it deliberately into Sean Rivers who (not surprisingly) had not had a chance to retreat 10 yards.  Rivers coolly turned and flicked the ball into the open net but instead of giving a goal, the ref booked the City striker for kicking the ball away.  Chertsey took advantage of their let off and should have done better a minute later – a shot from the edge of the box going well over the bar.

Slowly but surely though City were turning the screw – winning a freekick on the half hour mark which Elgar put just over the bar and then Rivers heading wide from a cross.  In the 35th minute, after another good move, Jamie King advanced into the Curfews penalty area and let fly with a shot which hit the hand of a Chertsey player.  Despite protests that the handball was not deliberate, the ref pointed to the spot and Rivers clinically fired into the right hand side of the net – Lidbury not having time to move.  Not surprisingly Chertsey responded strongly and Antony Hall once again proved his salt diving twice to block a shot in the City area, in the 36th minute.  The rest of the first period was largely uneventful with City doing well to keep their opponents at bay but finding room at the back to mount some attacks.

Half time provided a chance to sample some Chertsey hospitality (although for some reason they were convinced that I was a journalist!) and to eat some excellent nibbles.  We also updated via text those who had not made it to the match.  None of us dared to hope that City could win and I was trying to tell myself that a draw would be a good result – probably just as well in the end!

The match restarted and Guildford picked up where they had left off, containing the hosts and mounting some threatening attacks.  Anthony Bridgeman did especially well in the 51st minute – running down the left wing before letting fly with a powerful shot which went only a few inches wide of the near post.  A few minutes later Guildford won a freekick on the edge of the area after Adesina was pulled down but the chance came to nothing.  The home side decided to shake things up a little at this point with a double substitution, Mazzone and McNamara joining the fray for Higgins and Holley – and this made a significant difference to the Curfews’ attacking threat.  Moments later Tom Penson had to be on top of his game to dispossess Delissier after the midfielder carved a path of destruction to the edge of Guildford’s area.  City had a great chance at the other end, though, in the 59th minute – Adesina once again shaking off his marker and running into the box.  He appeared to be pulled back but stayed on his feet to unleash a shot which Lidbury just turned behind for a corner.  Annoyingly if Gabby had gone down we might have won another penalty.  As it was the corner was cleared and City once again found themselves under the kosh – Penson expertly dispossessing Delissier for the second time and averting a chance to score.

Chertsey turned up the heat even more and Graham Tydeman was lucky to get away with a yellow after bringing down a player when he appeared to be the last man.  Inevitably the pressure brought results and in the 67th minute a Curfews player was brought down in the box and the ref pointed to the penalty spot for the second time.  John Pomroy stepped up and we all expected a clinical strike and cheers from the home fans.  Amazingly though, Hall guessed correctly and dived to his right, pushing the ball behind for a corner which was well cleared.  Somehow Guildford were still 1-0 up and astonishingly things got even better just three minutes later – Jamie King receiving the ball some 20 yards out and firing a powerful shot along the ground towards goal.  Lidbury appeared to have it covered but the ball must have curled because it nestled in the back of the net to the cheers of the City players and fans.

Things could not continue to go Guildford’s way and the home side threw everything at the visitors in a bid to get back into the game.  The breakthrough finally came in the 77th minute, the ball being delivered into the box and the visitors being unable to clear their lines before Jack Mazzone prodded the ball home.  Things got worse for City moments later when Kev Rayner was forced to take off Tommy Tydeman with a calf strain – Tony Arnold replacing him at left back.  Now the play was entirely with the home side but to our great surprise they could not get the equaliser.  A bullet was definitely dodged in the 84th minute when a screamer from the edge of the box, beat Hall but rebounded off the bar.  A minute later Pomroy tried a lob which again narrowly missed the target.  City’s one attack in these final minutes of the game came from Lance – a powerful shot being easily gathered by Lidbury before the ball once again headed for the Guildford end.

Time was ticking away but I think we all knew City would be extremely fortunate to come away with all three points.  Luck did appear to be with us as the Curfews missed another excellent chance – firing wide at the far post after a freekick in the 91st minute.  It ran out a minute later though, a defensive error down the right wing allowing Mazzone to lob the ball over Hall and into the net from the edge of the box.  We dreaded a last minute Chertsey winner but the whistle blew soon after and City were left to rue that lapse of concentration at the death.

CHERTSEY TOWN: M. Lidbury; T. Higgins (J. Mazzone, 54); M. Holley (S. McNamara, 54); J. Francis; D. Inman; S. Gibson; A. Delissier; A. Crossley; J. Pomroy; K. Lock; O. Treacher

Subs not used: T. Webb; J. Leighton; J. Gowland
Booked: J. Pomroy; K. Lock;

GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; G. Tydeman; T. Tydeman (T. Arnold, 81); T. Penson; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; A. Bridgeman; B. Rayner; S. Rivers (L. Banton-Brown, 70); G. Adesina; Danny Elgar (J. Turner, 78)

Subs not used: T. Lineker; H. Carnegie
Booked: J. Turner; G. Tydeman; T. Penson; S. Rivers

Referee: M. Kelly
Attendance: 90