CITY would have taken the point beforehand but this was very much a case of two points dropped. Despite coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 down, Guildford had numerous chances – particularly in the first half – to put this game to bed. The visitors for their part benefited greatly from some dubious refereeing decisions and from the one real class act in their team – Aaron McLeish who always looked dangerous on the attack and not surprisingly grabbed both goals.
Chertsey generally seem to bring a good travelling support and this match was no exception – still, while the Sweeney had some competition in the chants, it did give a chance for Dan to go round and sign up some contestants for the golden goal competition. Meanwhile Sir Lagerlot was amusing us all with his new toy – a cheap plastic ‘horn’ which when blown emitted the most ear-piercing screech you can imagine. It’s fair to say I was pretty much deaf in one ear by the end of the match!
City started the match well, but it was Chertsey who had the first chance, winning a corner which none of their players was able to connect with, in the 2nd minute. Twelve minutes later the ref gave a very dubious freekick on the edge of the Guildford box which Tidy spilled for a corner that the City defence was luckily able to clear. A minute later the home side forged their own chance – and they should have taken the lead. Two corners in a row resulted in a header from one of the Guildford players hitting the bar, with the keeper well beaten. Now Guildford had the bit between their teeth and they began to start taking control in the midfield, moving the ball around with some neat passing and causing their opponents all sorts of trouble. This culminated in a brilliant move almost putting Joe Loyza through, he slid in for the ball just before the Chertsey keeper got to it but the keeper claimed it, along with a knock to the head for which he required treatment. Unusually the referee agreed and did not start brandishing his cards. Chertsey responded however and in the 21st minute Tidy was forced to turn a long range shot behind for a corner, a header beating the City keeper but fizzing just over the bar from the resulting set piece. The match had become an end to end thriller by this point, with Guildford making most of the running but Chertsey counter-attacking brilliantly with some one touch passing and of course through the threat of Mr McLeish. In the 25th minute the visitors had another chance, but luckily a deft chip from the edge of the area went over the bar. Frustratingly, however, the Curfews took the lead five minutes later. The ball found its way to McLeish, unmarked on the edge of the box and he shot across the keeper to the far corner off the net. To be fair to Dave Tidy it was a shot he should really have saved: as it was he dived and got his hand to it but not enough to keep it out.
City did not let this setback get to them, however, and as per their previous match against Camberley set about getting back into the game. They had only to wait 3 minutes to restore parity. Matt Graves sent in a brilliant cross from the left wing and an innocuous looking, but well placed header from another City player seemed to loop in slow motion towards the far side of the net. Josh Lennie, the Chertsey keeper seemed completely flat footed by this and could only get his fingertips to it to push it away. Joe Loyza, however, was lurking to slide in and push the ball over the line. Now the home side took up the initiative again and they really should have scored three or four goals during the final fifteen minutes of so of the half. First John Hamsher, tried his luck from long range with a brilliant effort which seemed to shave the paint off the top of the crossbar – an inevitable counterattack followed but Tidy was quick on his feet to clear before the onrushing forward could get to the ball. The frustration was showing on the visitors and a Chertsey player was shown a yellow card for a bad challenge in the 42nd minute. Minutes later, a piece of brilliant individual skill from Simon Sheppard in the middle of the pitch, shook off his marker, allowed him to play a one-two and then put the ball through to his team-mate who, with the keeper stranded, hit the post. Another chance presented itself to the home side in the dying seconds of the half, Joe Loyza showing some excellent skill to beat the defender and cross to the far post. Unfortunately a City player sliding in was just a fraction too late to turn the ball into the net.
The halftime whistle blew and with it came a dread sense that it was yet again not destined to be Guildford’s day. Still there was plenty to regale Matt Howell with as he sat in a church somewhere in South East England recording choral music with Mr Sendall! Meanwhile the large number of Chertsey fans descended on the snack bar and hopefully spent lots of money on City burgers and Pukka pies.
The home side began the second half how they had ended the first, but as before no breakthrough could be found. Two minutes in, another chance presented itself, a point blank range shot being hit straight at the keeper shortly before a further chance on goal was spurned. As I had said to Mr Howell over the phone, it was inevitable Chertsey would score against the run of play and so it proved. Minutes after these chances Aaron McLeish got the ball in a bit of space and advanced on the Guildford goal leaving defenders in his wake. As he arrived at the edge of the area he hit an unstoppable shot past Dave Tidy to give the Curfews the lead once more and send The Sweeney into the doldrums. The home side once again built themselves up to take the game to their opponents, but the play was far more even during this period – Chertsey finding themselves with more chances as City pushed upfield. In the 65th minute Martin Beard pulled off an outstanding tackle to deny McLeish a free passage on goal and, almost certainly, his hat-trick, the resulting corner being cleared out of harm’s way by some well marshalled defending. The home side kept pushing forward however, no doubt buoyed by their win against all the odds in the previous league game. Eventually the breakthrough came – some good play down the left wing by Aneel Azeem resulted in the ball being sent across the face of goal to the waiting Loyza – as it was one of the Chertsey players got there first and turned the ball into his own net.
Once again the balance of power had shifted and this time it seemed it was the home side who had the best chance of taking home all the points. Aneel was causing Chertsey problems and inevitably he was brought down with a crunching tackle from Lee Muldowney, for which the Curfews midfielder earned a yellow card in the 85th minute. The resulting freekick was cleared comfortably however, allowing the visitors their own chance to grab all three points. First a long range effort on goal was swung in, in the 88th minute, beating Tidy and just missing the far post and then a minute later, McLeish once again went on the attack, beating his man to get to the byline and crossing to his team-mate in the box who (to great sighs of relief from the stands) shot over. The match concluded with a Guildford corner but it was cleared and the match ended honours even.
GUILDFORD CITY: D. Tidy; P. Bartholomew; W. Noad; C. Moore; A. Wylde; M. Beard; L. Passmore; J. Hamsher (sub S. Wadge, 69); M. Graves (sub M. Rothwell, 90); J. Loyza; S. Sheppard (sub A. Azeem, 45)
Subs not used: M. Burns; A. Smillie
Booked: J. Hamsher
CHERTSEY TOWN: J. Lennie; S. Gibson; M. Waters; G. Graham; G. Bolger; L. Muldowney; L. Martin (sub M. Maan, 85); A. McLeish; J. Pomroy; K. Cooper; D. Dobinson
Subs not used: G. Boosey; N. Cosser; M. Moody; M. Laden.
Booked: L. Muldowney