Cove 3 – 0 Guildford City

City were outplayed in this league match between two sides vying for a top four finish this season. True, they were missing a few key players – Warren ‘Wazza’ Cobourne and Lee Allum among them – and the state of the pitch left a lot to be desired. That shouldn’t detract from a Cove performance which – in the first half at least – gave City a lesson in finishing.

Guildford lined up on this mild January evening with a few changes in their starting XI. Mark Mercer started in place of Wazza and Lee O’Donnell took up an unfamiliar position in midfield. One of the gaffers was also on the pitch – Scott Steele taking up the role in midfield which has become his trademark. For the first 20 minutes of the match there was relatively little to report with both sides making inroads into the opposition half but failing to penetrate well marshalled defences.

Cove had the slight edge however and this was confirmed in the twenty fifth minute when the City defence fatally allowed the ball to bounce from a goalkick, enabling a Cove player to shake off his marker and chip the ball over the onrushing Jay Gindre. Not to worry, City have a habit of coming back from these situations and the assembled supporters fully expected them to do so. The job became that bit harder though when Cove yet again caught out the City defence – a well placed through-ball allowing the Cove player to slot past the Guildford keeper.

Two nil was already a difficult enough mountain to climb against such a pacey side and City were struggling to make in-roads. Their misery was complete just before half time when a Cove player collected the ball just inside the City half, looked up and tried a raking cross-field pass to one of his team mates. The ball did not find its intended recipient but did fly like an exocet missile over Jay Gindre – who can’t have been more than a few feet off his line – and into the bottom corner of the net

Half time then and very little to play for except pride in the second half – you could have forgiven the City players for throwing in the towel and surrendering to a 5 or 6 nil drubbing but to their tremendous credit they came out in the second half fighting.

With a 3-0 lead, Cove seemed happy to let Guildford come at them and we finally started to see the passing football which has been such a feature of City’s game this season. Reece White was playing particularly well in the centre of midfield, Aneel Azeem was once again showing his ability to take on and beat players (and putting in a few flying challenges for good measure) and Scott Cannie was showing his usual never-say die attitude. Chances started to come – only half chances unfortunately – a freekick just outside the area which the keeper dealt with comfortably, a goalmouth scramble with Mark Mercer not quite able to get to the ball in time and some good link up play from Scott Steele. At the other end Cove broke dangerously a few times but luckily for City, were not able to capitalise.

The result was never in doubt though and the match finished 3-0 with City at least able to leave the pitch with some pride having fought impressively in the second half to try and get back in the game. Guildford had at least managed to win one aspect of the evening – the noise levels. The hardcore City fans, encamped in their own stand on the far touchline sang for most of the match in their attempt to lift their team. Numbers included the now classic Sweeney chant and some new songs – one to the tune of ‘Minder’ that Chris’s missus really does need to reveal the words to – and the ironic we’re gonna beat you 12-0 – even got a ripple of laughter from the Cove fans for that one….

Never mind – onward and upward. The next test is Colliers Wood back at the Spectrum on Saturday – see you there.