Guildford City 1 – 3 Selsey (FA Vase First Round)

CITY failed to lift themselves from the misery of the Colliers Wood debacle in this lacklustre performance. They made a good start, notching in the opening minutes but failed to hammer home their advantage against an unskilful yet spirited Selsey side. Even the addition of 5 new faces to the squad failed to have the desired effect as Guildford’s season went from bad to worse.

I don’t think any of the City fans appreciated quite how many supporters Selsey would bring down, although the fact that a coach was needed should have been a clue. They arrived quite lagered up and, it has to be said for some of them, in a pretty aggressive frame of mind. The lack of respect and arrogance shown by some of the fans towards the staff in the snackbar was pretty shocking and there were no tears shed when the horde boarded their coach back to Selsey. That said, the chairman seemed like a good bloke and the visiting fans did spend a heck of a lot of money on food and particularly drink so we were all grateful for that.

It was good to see a few new Guildford supporters in the crowd although they really couldn’t have chosen a worse game as the rain hammered down and Guildford turned a winning lead into an embarrassing defeat. At least we lost to Colliers Wood in the sunshine last week! On the pitch were a variety of new faces – in particular Michael Bolton (no not that one!) who actually bore quite a striking resemblance to Matt Lucas and the gigantic Jamahl King who did at least suggest that our back four would have some physical presence with both Andy Wylde and Dan Dunning sidelined.

The home side started well and within seconds the ball had been flashed wide of Selsey’s goal. Minutes later, City were ahead: Matt Martin being brought down in the box for a stonewall penalty. Simon Sheppard stepped up and confidently slotted home although the keeper dived the right way. We assumed (will we never learn?!) that the stage was set for Guildford to put the match to bed, with the Sussex side now chasing the game and inevitably leaving gaps at the back. Needless to say, this was not how it turned out. Some of the Selsey players were clearly of a lower standard than City’s – plain to see as a number of passes went astray – but they were willing to take the fight to a side unwilling or unable to kill them off. The visitors began to make inroads, winning a freekick in the 14th minute which Jay Gindre (returning in place of Dave Tidy who was cup-tied) was able to hold onto comfortably. A minute later Shane Duffell was forced into a superbly timed last ditch tackle to deny an opposition forward a free run on goal before, in the 21st minute, Jay was called into action catching the ball after the Selsey midfielder, Sean Dobbs, rose unmarked to head at goal. Seconds later Jay was involved again, punching clear after a freekick from the halfway line was pumped dangerously into the City half. The visiting fans were relishing their side’s never-say-die attitude and were particularly vociferous three minutes later when the ball ran out for a Selsey corner after what they judged to be a push on one of their players.

Guildford were trying to regain control of the match and none more so than Simon Sheppard. In the 29th minute he ran pretty much the entire length of the pitch but with none of his team mates there to support him, was dispossessed on the edge of the visitors’ penalty area. Six minutes later it was new boy, David Jones’s turn to try his luck after a spectacularly bad clearance from the Selsey keeper fell to the Guildford striker, but he unfortunately put it wide. Back came the visitors though, winning a corner in the 36th minute which was eventually cleared after a bit of pinball in the City box. A few minutes later Craig Duffell got the ball in acres of space, ran into the box but then shot weakly at the Selsey keeper, Steve Phillips. The Sussex League side then responded with perhaps their best chance of the half, one of their players rising unmarked to head wide from about 6 yards – a real let off for City. To their credit the home side responded but, as so often this season, wasted their chance – David Jones knocking a slide-rule pass across the face of goal to Matt Martin who hooked the ball over the bar, much to the home fans’ dismay. City had another let off just before the whistle went, the visitors shooting wide of an open goal from an admittedly tricky angle.

As the rain came down and the Selsey fans got gradually more and more rowdy, the one consolation for City’s long suffering supporters was that their team were ahead (although admittedly they had ridden their luck on several occasions). If what was happening on the pitch didn’t fill them with excitement, there was a man sitting in the stand wearing a Chelsea hat and guarding a mysterious cardboard box who was about to make up for it. Inside was none other than the actual European Cup, currently being toured around country by none other than Liam Alleyne’s dad!! Needless to say there were plenty of photos taken after the match and we even got pictures of the cup with City scarves around the handles. A rainy, windswept Spectrum on an autumn afternoon was a long way from an 80,000 seater stadium in Istanbul or Moscow but hey we can dream!!

Out came the teams for the second half and as soon as play commenced it was clear that we were in for more of the same. Selsey immediately picked up from where they left off, dominating possession and frustrating their hosts. As if to underline this, new boys Bolton and McCormick earned themselves yellow cards within seconds of each other – both for late tackles. Inevitably the equaliser was not long in coming – Rob Brown pouncing to slot the ball past the helpless Jay after a poor clearance. The omens really weren’t good now and you could see the confidence draining out of the team. Si Sheppard still believed at least, embarking on yet another impressive run down the pitch in the 54th minute – yet again though he had nowhere to go and no-one to pass to and the advantage was lost. Three minutes later the visitors predictably went ahead – Matt Martin deflecting a Scott Hinshelwood shot into the net after City yet again failed to clear their lines.

The home fans knew from bitter experience there was only likely to be one winner now, and so it proved. Guildford just seemed to have given up and their opponents started to run amok. In the 63rd minute the Sussex side won a freekick on the edge of the Guildford box but Jay was alive to the threat and plucked the shot from the air. He had less of a chance in the 69th minute however, the visitors beating the offside trap and squaring the ball to Callum Britton who slotted home easily. Four minutes later it could have been 4-1 – Jay saving brilliantly from point plank range after a Selsey forward was put through on goal. Still the onslaught continued – a long range shot beating Jay all ends up and cannoning off the corner of the post and bar in the 77th minute before it was hacked away by City’s desperate defenders.

At last however, the home side pulled themselves together and began to play – Simon Sheppard being released down the wing in the 82nd minute and passing to Greg Levene in the box whose cross missed an onrushing City player. It was all too little, too late however – a long distance shot from Simon Sheppard and a header which sailed wide were all the home side could muster in the dying minutes as Selsey went home drunken but triumphant.

GUILDFORD CITY: J. Gindre; K. Philpott; S. Duffell (sub Dave Iliffe, 66); Michael Bolton (sub G. Levene, 76); Jamahl King; Simon McCormick; M. Martin; C. Moore; C. Duffell; Dave Jones; S. Sheppard G, Levene

Subs not used: L. Alleyne

SELSEY: S. Phillips; S. Hinshelwood; G. Robinson; A. Brown; M. Lee; J. Bines; S. Dobbs; A. Morey; R. Brown; C. Britton; R. Woolf

Subs not used: M. Nicholas; B. Raynor; C. Marshall; R. Matthews; S. Harris