Epsom & Ewell (1) 1, Guildford City (1) 3
by Barry Underwood
Bottom of the table Epsom & Ewell gave a real fighting performance at High Road but couldn’t stop Guildford City coming away with the three points. In the first-half indeed Epsom were the better side as City disappointed by cheaply conceding possession, and inviting the home side to come to them. Home coach Neil Grant said that this was the best his side had played this season, and so in the end City can take credit for turning their performance round to claim the points. A number of times the battling Epsom side created good openings although their efforts largely missed the target and visiting keeper Kornel Ziobrowski was seldom called into direct action. Epsom were certainly up for the game and their energetic closing down gave City’s ball players limited time on the ball. For all of the home side’s possession it was Guildford who took the lead on seven minutes. Dan Stewart’s free-kick found George Pilbeam in the box with his back to goal. But he turned neatly and fired home from eight yards. Hopes that this would fire City up were optimistic. Too often Epsom’s players looked the hungrier and City were on the back foot again. Shortly after the goal the home side saw an effort deflected wide, and from the resulting corner the ball was volleyed over from 15 yards. On 17 minutes Epsom deservedly drew level when from one of a number of corners a loose ball was smashed home by Scott Murphy. For the remainder of the first period Guildford created little offensively and at half-time they left the pitch knowing they would have to up their game to gain reward.
Guildford did improve in the second-half although the home side still looked lively, especially down the right flank, and former City player Endrit Dobraj had their best effort pulling a good effort wide of the post. Guildford noticeably lifted their game with the introduction of Mark Watkins from the bench. Defensively Nemo Adam still had to be alert to block a chance at the near post, but going forward City looked much more of a threat. With seven minutes left on the clock Luke Beale’s glancing header was hacked off the goal line. Not to be denied long the visitors scored a minute later. Francois Gabbidon, himself making an impression off the bench, found space in the box and played in Mark Watkins who scored from six yards. There were early thoughts that Watkins might have been in an offside position but the assistant referee was clear that a defender had played the City player on. On 87 minutes City made the game safe when from a delightful cross from Watkins, a combination of George Pilbeam and Nathaniel Williams glanced the ball home, with Williams getting the last touch. Guildford saw out the remaining minutes without undue alarm, but Epsom & Ewell quite rightly will be frustrated that their considerable performance gained no reward.
Team: Kornel Ziobrowski, Charlie Alexiou, Darryl Bryan-Samuels, Luke Beale, Nemo Adams, David Opoku, Jordan Gallagher (Francois Gabbidon 73), Robbie Mundow (Mark Watkins 63), George Pilbeam, Dan Stewart, Nathaniel Williams (Shaun Johnson 90).
Referee: Turan Yesilyurt
Attendance – 51