THIS was by no means a classic game of football. On a pitch still recovering from the deluges of previous weeks, Redhill and Guildford slugged it out for 120 minutes without a goal being scored – penalties proving the only way to separate the sides. In truth Redhill should have settled the tie well before extra time but their finishing was truly abysmal. Guildford’s chances were few and far between and when they arrived their players did little better although the defending was exceptional. Eight well taken penalties were the decider in the end with the home side triumphing 5-3, setting them up for a mouth-watering encounter with either Tooting and Mitcham or Sutton United in the next round.
No-one was underestimating the challenge Redhill – known amusingly as the Lobsters – would pose to City. Flying high in Division 1 of the Sussex League and averaging two goals a game, our defence were going to have their work cut out and so it proved. It was Guildford who fired the first shots across the bows however – first Simon Cooper unleashing a misdirected daisy cutter from 30 yards out and then Harrison Carnegie rising to head a cross from the left wing, Andy Greaves the Redhill keeper getting to the ball first. Pretty soon however City had their hands full containing Daniel Morris, the towering and pacey Lobsters striker who carved a swathe in the City back four whenever he got the ball. Redhill won a corner after one such attack in the 17th minute, Cory Knight desperately hoofing the ball behind, but the delivery was poor and the ball cleared. A minute later the Lobsters’ left back Tashan Nicholas tried his luck, an impressive jinking run into the box ending with a weak shot to Hall.
The pressure increased for City although time and again their back four were equal to the task, harrying the attackers and more often than not winning the ball back before a shot could be taken. Morris continued to cause problems however, bludgeoning his way into the City box from the right wing in the 25th minute before winning a corner – the delivery once again being poor and the rebound driven over the bar from long range. A minute later the Lobsters had their best chance of the half. Danny Elgar conceded a freekick near the touchline and level with the 18 yard box. Hall came off his line to palm the curling delivery away but the ball fell to a Redhill player who fired towards the open goal in what appeared to be a certain scoring opportunity. Somehow Jamie Thoroughgood got back onto the line to clear and keep Guildford in contention.
The Lobsters let up a little at this point, allowing the back four some much needed respite and the City forwards the chance to test Greaves. Carnegie had a good chance in the 29th minute, shredding his marker down the right wing before letting fly a powerful shot which Greaves held comfortably at the near post. The visitors responded immediately and some excellent defending was required when Hall came out to clear the ball but missed it leaving the open goal unguarded. Guildford did their best to trade blows with their opponents but Carnegie could not get his shot on target in the 35th minute having run along the byline and pulled the trigger from an extreme angle. Two minutes later Cory Knight, in the unfamiliar position of right midfield was put through in his own half with most of Redhill’s players committed. He advanced to within 25 yards of the goal with the City fans urging him on but his confidence appeared low and he waited for Elgar to catch up before passing to him – Danny’s cross into the box being overhit and going behind for a goalkick.
The rest of the half belonged to the Lobsters as first they fired well over in the 38th minute and then Lee Radford had an excellent chance after a good run down the left wing – whether he meant to cross or shoot was unclear but the ball ran well wide of the far post from what had been a good scoring opportunity. An even better chance arrived three minutes from time, some impressive one-touch passing appearing to give Radford a routine finish at the near post – Tommy Tydeman had other ideas however sliding in and doing enough to cause the Lobsters striker to fire over the bar from just a few yards out. “It was surely easier to score from that position” remarked Milts and he wasn’t far wrong. Redhill then beat the Guildford offside trap but Tommy Tydeman again proved his worth by getting back and blocking the shot – the ball rebounding off the Redhill player for a goalkick.
The Lobsters onslaught continued after the break – a slick passing move from the kick off giving Radford another chance which he sent well over the bar. The visitors won a freekick a few minutes later which was cleared and allowed City to go on the counter-attack – Knight and Carnegie combining well to win a corner when there was little else on. Yet again they were unable to trouble their opponents and worse still a sloppy piece of control from Tom Penson allowed Calvin Headley to intercept and run unopposed on the goal. The Lobsters’ midfielder must have panicked however as his shot ran well wide and the City fans breathed yet another sigh of relief.
There was no let up for the Guildford defence however and in the 55th minute Simon Cooper pulled off an exceptional tackle to deny a goal-scoring opportunity after Chris Hubbard had crossed into the box. Guildford’s first real chance arrived on the hour mark – Greaves coming for the ball from a corner and missing it – unfortunately no player got could send it into the net. A minute later City were lucky again – a good throughball allowing a Redhill forward to beat Tom Penson for pace and send in a sliderule pass from the byline. Hall dived to cut it out but could not claim it, the ball falling loose in the area and the City defenders just clearing in time. Again the home side counter-attacked and Danny Elgar tried a curling shot from the edge of the box which was well held.
The visitors kept coming forward, a good shot from substitute Marcus Elliott just missing in the 70th minute and then Penson again showing real skill to dispossess a forward two minutes later. A great chance came the home side’ way in the 79th minute however – a cross coming in from the right wing but Lance Banton-Brown rising unmarked to head it away from goal – whether by accident or trying to lay it off it wasn’t clear. Two more chances arrived, one for each side. First Tom Penson conceded a freekick near the byline, earning a yellow card for his troubles. The resulting freekick was curled perfectly across the face of goal and behind, two Redhill players sliding in as it went by but failing to connect. Then on the stroke of 90 minutes City won a freekick around 25 yards from goal. Simon Cooper stepped up and fired a wonderful delivery towards the far top corner of the net. Somehow Greaves got his fingertips to it and pushed it behind for a corner – the resulting kick being terrible and easily cleared.
So the match was goalless after 90 minutes and went into extra time. Both sides were understandably exhausted by this point and with every minute that passed penalties seemed more and more likely. It is fair to say however that the visitors had the better of the added period, pegging their opponents back for much of it. Surely the chance to bury it arrived in the 96th minute – Morris again outpacing his markers before laying the ball off for the completely unmarked Elliott who was lurking at the far post. All he needed to do was sidefoot the ball home yet somehow it ballooned over the bar for the second time in the match. Morris went on another rampage in the 103rd minute but this time the City defence was ready for him and the home side actually had the better of the play for the remainder of the half – Carnegie being put through in the 105th minute and letting fly a powerful shot which was spilled but recovered by Greaves. The final minutes of extra time were quite painful to watch as both sets of players appeared to have run out of energy. Gabriel Adesina was put through in the 110th minute but did not pull the trigger before being brought down for a decent penalty shout. Carnegie then headed weakly at goal from a cross and two successive City corners nearly gave Adesina a chance before the ref finally blew for penalties.
The spot kicks were undoubtedly the highlight of the game – all being clinically taken. City won the toss and elected to take the first one – Tom Penson, one of Guildford’s defensive heroes, stepping up and firing a thunderbolt into the bottom left corner leaving Greaves no chance (1-0). Leon Dussard then fired a low, hard shot to the right – Hall diving the correct way but missing (1-1). Simon Cooper then stepped up and scored with a carbon copy of Penson’s kick to restore the lead (2-1). Lobsters right back Asher Hudson then surprised everyone with a kick of supreme confidence, dinked down the middle with Hall diving the wrong way (2-2). James Brown then sent the ball into the bottom left corner (3-2) prior to Calvin Headley restoring parity with a kick into the middle of the net (3-3). Jamie King was next and he elected to curl his shot into the right hand corner, leaving Greaves no chance (4-3). The final Redhill player stepped up and sent a powerful striker to the left but Hall guessed perfectly and blocked the shot. Harrison Carnegie then had the dubious privilege of winning the tie for Guildford but he coolly slotted his strike home to great cheers from the City fans.
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; T. Tydeman; T. Penson; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; C. Knight; J. Brown; L. Banton-Brown (J. Turner, 101); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (G. Adesina, 68)
Subs not used: L. Bradnick; A. Bridgeman
REDHILL: A. Greaves; A. Hudson; T. Nicholas; J. Hogg; C. Stagg; C. Headley; C. Hubbard (N. John); C. Ofusuhene; D. Morris; L. Radford (M. Elliott 69); L. Dussard
Subs not used: M. Alcindor
Referee: M. Webb