THIS truly was a bizarre game. It contained a sending off, a ridiculous amount of missed chances, a disallowed goal that fooled half of the City fans and to cap it all, fulltime on 88 minutes!! City were looking good up until the 13th minute, despite resting a few players prior to Saturday’s big match, yet fell behind to a well worked freekick from the home side. The visitors then contrived to miss a hatful of chances, had a goal disallowed and then sealed a draw courtesy of a Rivers goal in what turned out to be the last minute.
This was our second visit to Meadowbank in the space of 10 days but we were expecting a tougher test this time round. Dorking had sealed an impressive 2-2 draw against North Greenford at the weekend and it sounded like they could have won. Despite this Kevin, with one eye on Saturday, chose to rest some key players and gave some of the squad players a chance to shine. With the likes of Rivers, Carter and Banton-Brown on the pitch and Tommy Tydeman and Gabriel Adesina ready to come off the bench, we were still pretty confident.
It was the visitors who made the better start to the game, notching their first chance as early as the first minute – Sean Rivers tried to hook the ball into the net from the edge of the area but missed the target. Two minutes later he had another good chance from a corner but his header flew just over the bar. The Chicks responded and should have gone ahead in the 6th minute – Dan Burnett pulling off yet another impressive reflex save to deny the onrushing Dorking forward at close range. Guildford came back from their let off winning a throw-in level with the penalty area which Elvis launched into the box – the keeper just getting to the ball before Sean Rivers. It was the home side however who broke the deadlock in the 13th minute. A freekick was won on the right wing and the ball was launched towards the far post. Who should be there, completely unmarked, but former Guildford man Joe Loyza to head the ball easily past Burnett.
City were playing too well to be despondent. Just three minutes after the goal came a good chance to even things up – an excellent cross into the box from Jack Turner being met by the head of Lance Banton-Brown, back at last from injury. Chicks keeper Dan Coote could only parry but Rivers’s snap shot from the edge of the box went over. The home side then started to come back into the game once again, winning a freekick in a dangerous area in the 21st minute which the City defence were equal to. Two minutes later it was Guildford’s turn – the ball looping into the area from a great height and being partially cleared to Lance who drove his shot wide of the post. All this industry was leaving the visitors exposed at the back and Dan Burnett did well once again to bravely pluck the ball from the onrushing Joe Loyza, who would otherwise have scored.
The game settled into a midfield duel for a while and then re-ignited in the 33rd minute – Lance being brought down just on the corner of the area and the impressive Tommy Carter curling his freekick just wide of the far post. The two sides traded some inconclusive counter-attacks before Guildford once more had a chance to level the scores in the 38th minute. Lance again was the creator, beating his man down the right wing and firing in a cross low and hard which the keeper could only parry to Jack Turner. The City midfielder was caught by surprise however and couldn’t twist himself in time to turn the ball in. There followed some decent looking through balls for the visitors which Dorking skipper Coote was equal to. That is until he fumbled one in the 42nd minute under pressure from Rivers. The City forward was not expecting the ball to run through to him and with the net gaping he could not pull the trigger before he was dispossessed. There followed a booking for the Chicks’ right back and a good chance for the home side – the ball being headed wide from a freekick – before the referee blew for halftime.
The break brought the chance for some excellent tea and cakes in the Dorking board room and to scratch our heads as we tried to work out how Guildford had not scored. We had to give Dorking credit, however, for making the most of their chances and indeed they could have extended their lead at times. To lighten the mood, Sir Lagerlot gave me the latest prediction from our friend Mystic Doug. Apparently he foresaw that none other than global mega star Madonna would take an interest in City at some time in the future and give us 10 million pounds!! Hmmmm.
The second half began with a substitution for the home side – centre half replacing centre half in a straight swap. For their part City continued their search for that elusive goal. It should have come in the 51st minute – Lance receiving a perfectly timed through ball and advancing on the keeper with defenders in his wake. He could and should have pulled the trigger but tried to take the ball around the keeper and got into a tangle. Another chance missed. Minutes later the home side responded with a huge freekick which looped into the City penalty area from a great height – luckily for the visitors a Dorking header went behind. Kevin chose to shuffle his pack at this point, bringing on Adesina and prodigal son, Tommy Tydeman for Turner and Arnold in an attacking substitution. The move started to pay dividends, particularly with Tommy adding some dangerous crosses to the mix. The frustration was beginning to show however and Tommy Carter had a bit of a talking to from the ref after a foul on Guy. No cards were shown to the visitors at this point but this swiftly changed as the ever-robust Liam Hirrel went a crunching tackle too far and found himself in the book.
Time was ticking away and Guildford finally appeared to break the deadlock in the 76th minute. A freekick was won near the byline and the ball crossed in. “We’ll score from this” said Sir Lagerlot, mystically, “I just know it”. As if by magic Jamie King headed the ball across the goal and it was bundled into the back of the net. “YEEEEEESSSSSS” we roared as, consistent with a goal, the referee blew his whistle and pointed down the pitch in the direction of the centre circle. “GETTTTT INNNNN” we screamed as, taking our eyes off the pitch for a moment, we missed the Dorking keeper taking the freekick which had in reality been awarded. “I love you Sir Lagerlot” I whispered tenderly, “kiss me and this time do it like you mean it!” Ah such is the euphoria of seeing your team score. If only I had known, I wouldn’t have proposed, still I’ve bought the dress and it looks fabulous…..
But anyway getting back to reality, convinced that the score was now 1-1 and we were sure to score the winner any moment, the Sweeney (myself, Sir Lagerlot and his brother) cheered every kick of our, slightly puzzled players. The drama continued however, Lance and Dorking fullback Paul West going in for the ball and colliding heavily. Both were writhing on the floor and it looked like a case of a 50/50 ball, the referee had no doubt however and proceeded to send the furious West off.
This only served to spur City on and it was the two Tydeman brothers causing all the problems as first Graham down the right and then Tommy down the left whipped in excellent crosses. It had to be Tommy who created the equaliser, in his first game of the season. Beating his man down the left wing he advanced to near the edge of the penalty area only to be brought down. The City defender then stepped up and fired in a perfect freekick which landed was half-volleyed the ball into the back of the net by Sean Rivers. “WE’RE WINNING!!” we deludedly screamed from the sidelines. The kick off was then taken but moments later the referee blew for fulltime, much to the puzzlement of everyone.
To say the Guildford City players were puzzled as we sang every single one of them off the pitch would be an understatement. Still, I maintain that it was a mistake anyone could have made (apart from, apparently, everyone else in the ground!) Let’s hope we have a genuine reason to celebrate on Saturday.
DORKING: D. Coote; P. West; A. Hill; P. Guy (S. Harrison, 74); S. Murphy; J. White; S. Olukosi; D. Clayton (V. Donker, 74); P. Page; J. Loyza (J. Gladwin, 48); J. Davis
Subs not used: D. Laurence; J. Kennedy
Sent off: P. West
GUILDFORD CITY: D. Burnett; E. Defreitas (G. Tydeman, 80); T. Arnold (T. Tydeman, 64); T. Penson; J. Thoroughgood; L. Hirrel; J. Turner (G. Adesina, 64); J. King; S. Rivers; L. Banton-Brown; T. Carter
Subs not used: L. Bradnick; K. Tracey
Booked: L. Hirrel
Referee: J. Ryan