CITY made it two wins in a row and strengthened their claim for a top 10 place with this slightly flattering win over Cove. The first thirty minutes definitely belonged to the visitors as they used their pace and power to good effect. However it was Harrison Carnegie who made it 1-0 to the hosts just before the break. The second period continued in the same vein, with City regularly counter-attacking as Cove threw more of their players into the attack. The second goal was crucial and it fell to Guildford, Scott Elgar finishing confidently, before Lance Banton-Brown added the gloss with a blockbuster from the edge of the box.
To our knowledge, this was the first CCL League match to be played on a Sunday and we would suggest that the experiment worked. One of the highest crowds of the season turned out on a day which started with rain but brightened up right on cue. Cove were celebrating winning the EL Records Challenge Cup in extra time on the Friday night and the crowd and City players rose to acknowledge their achievement as they came onto the field.
Cove did not start the match like a tired side. Soon City were on the back foot as the visitors caused problems with their pace and passing. Their first effort of note had to wait until the 6th minute however – Sam Wilson firing a speculative long range effort just wide. More opportunities followed and a Cove player nearly scored a superb goal on 20 minutes – weaving his way through half of the Guildford team before disappointingly firing wide inside the box. The Wasps went even closer five minutes later – a forward once more beating the offside trap and going one-on-one with Antony Hall. A goal looked likely but Hall parried the shot and the home side lived to fight another day. Another decent chance followed from Bimal Balal on the half hour mark but the Cove striker chipped the ball over the bar.
Guildford were under pressure and their impressive home record which had seen only one league defeat since 3 October was looking vulnerable. Yet having weathered this sustained assault, City started to get more possession – perhaps as a result of tired legs among the visitors. Danny Elgar started to cause some real problems down the left hand side – cutting in to fire narrowly wide in the 36th minute and releasing Lance down the middle two minutes later – the City striker being dispossessed by the last defender. Then as if from nowhere Guildford were suddenly ahead. Harrison Carnegie ran onto a sensational crossfield pass and tucked the ball under the diving Chris Foster to give the home side an unlikely lead. City continued to press but could not extend their lead. The half ended with Foster being treated for an injury which necessitated his replacement during the break.
The Wasps, to their credit, were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half, clearing a Guildford corner before counterattacking. City’s back four held firm however and it wasn’t until the 55th minute that the first decent effort arrived. Some slick passing, allied with some jinking runs allowed Cove to bisect the home side’s defence before veteran striker Kevin Cooper was put through – his shot flying over the bar. Guildford responded but were having trouble releasing their forwards or exploiting their chances – a corner on the hour mark being easily cleared for instance. They had more work to do at the other end in the 65th minute when Steve Brown picked up a raking pass but could only manage a weak header to Antony Hall.
As with the first half, the hosts began to have a bit more of the ball at this point, helped by some timely substitutions. In the 69th minute the Elgar brothers combined – Scott passing to Danny after an excellent run but Danny’s shot flying wide. Two minutes later Danny rode some challenges down the left wing but saw his shot blocked on the edge of the box. Lance Banton-Brown was finding more space as well and tried his luck from inside the area in the 77th minute – the shot deflecting to stand-in Cove keeper Michael Blount. The visitors were still forging some chances and won a freekick in a dangerous position in the 79th minute. Hall easily caught the delivery and then released Banton-Brown who did well to beat the offside trap but saw his pass gathered. Cove again threatened five minutes later from a freekick – the ball breaking loose in the City box before finally being smothered by Hall.
It looked like there would be a nervy finish but moments later Scott Elgar made it 2-0 with his first goal for the club. Lance made an intelligent run down the right wing unleashing a shot which was deflected to Scott. The young midfielder showed remarkable composure to slot the ball into the top corner from 15 yards out. And just when we thought things couldn’t get any better Lance himself deservedly made it 3-0. As usual it was his most difficult chance of the day. The City striker got to the edge of the box and under pressure from several defenders, dropped a shoulder and threaded an unstoppable drive into the back of the net from an extreme angle. The fitful genius of Mr Banton-Brown – go figure!
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; A. Bridgeman; C. Knight; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; S. Elgar; B. Rayner; L. Bradnick (L. Banton-Brown 67); H. Carnegie; D. Elgar (J. Brown 84)
Subs not used: R. McCarry; J. Holloway; T. Penson
COVE: C. Foster (M. Blount 45); J. Williams; T. McGarry; L. Bridgeland (A. Jeffers 45); K. During; D. Johnston; A. Vine; S. Brown; B. Balal; K. Cooper; S. Wilson
Subs not used: L. Passmore; D. Turner
Referee: A. Morley