Guildford City (0) 0, Balham (0) 6
by Barry Underwood
I don’t think any of the 89 spectators at the Spectrum last evening will have anticipated such a score line. Granted Guildford are now eight matches without a win, but in each of those matches they played a full part and might on other occasions have taken the three points. Even at the interval of this match the likelihood of a bloated score line looked extremely unlikely. The visitors had looked the better of the sides in that first-half without finding their way through to goal. Early in the second-half the match changed. Balham scored, City hit the post in response and a soft penalty decision against City gave Balham a two goal lead, and embarrassingly that was the signal for collapse with four further goals conceded in the final half hour.
City actually had the first chance of a goal as early as the second minute. Mark Watkins received the ball just inside the box but his early effort was scooped over the bar. Guildford just couldn’t make headway with possession continually being conceded, and a lively, organised Balham side continually looked a threat. The visitor’s captain Grant Goodband headed over at the back post, whilst Luke Badiali was twice called into action. In a rare moment a fine Dan Stewart volley troubled Harman, and Kieran Campbell was rather unluckily booked for trying to turn the rebound in. Mark Watkins saw a shot blocked for a corner, and as the half came to an end the game was becoming stretched, although Balham had had the better of the encounter.
Hopes that City would be a side transformed after the break was thwarted, when to the frustration of the home crowd, they still struggled to string passes together. It was no real surprise when the lively Anis Nuur fired goal ward from 25 yards and Luke Badiali seemed to see the ball late and the shot found the corner. Two minutes later City came mighty close to getting back on level terms when from a free-kick Luke Beale’s glancing header hit the post and the loose ball rolled across the goalmouth and into the goalkeepers arms. The games defining moment happened 10 minutes later when City conceded a penalty, and a soft penalty it was. Balham’s striker had his back to goal wide out on the edge of the box when a Guildford defender was adjudged to have committed a foul. Olutade stepped up to convert the penalty and for a side lacking confidence this seemingly was the signal to surrender. The fight went out of several City players and two goals in two minutes were conceded with embarrassing defending. On 75 minutes Kieran Campbell found space to turn in the box and his thumping effort was blocked by Harman and the ball cleared. On 78 minutes Badiali saved well low in the corner but James Adebayo was first to the rebound to net from close range, and with three minutes remaining Balham scored their sixth with another penalty attempt. The score could have blown out further as Luke Badiali several times made brave saves against the onslaught. A bright cameo in the carnage was the appearance off the bench of U’18 striker Michael Coppinger who came close to scoring with his first touch in senior football. Undoubtedly this was a woeful performance from City, with Balham too often outmanoeuvring the home side and cutting through the middle like knife through butter. City haven’t seen a defeat like this since their Evo-Stik days, and manager Chris Balchin certainly has his hands full trying to lift the players for their visit to Spelthorne.
Team: Luke Badiali, Chris Tancock, Shaun Johnson, Luke Beale, Nemo Adams, David Opuku, Mark Watkins (Jordan Gallagher 66), Robbie Mundow, Kieran Campbell (Michael Coppinger 78), Dan Stewart (Kiye Martin 76), Nathaniel Williams. Unused subs: David Burton, Daryl Bryan-Samuels.
Referee: John Brown
Attendance – 89