Guildford City 4 – 3 Banstead Athletic

THIS MATCH had absolutely everything you could want from a football match – superb attacking football, wonderful goals – including it has to be said, a brilliant hat-trick from the Banstead striker Kev Terry – and a winner in the dying minutes. It showed yet again why City deserved their high placing this season, refusing to give in or to sacrifice their footballing principles when the going got rough. A great way to sign off the last home game of the 2007/08 season.

Having trooped to the Spectrum the previous Wednesday to watch a dire 1-1 draw with Raynes Park, City fans’ expectations were not high going into the match. However it was soon clear that this was not going to be another plodding draw. Guildford laid down their statement of intent as early as the 8th minute – Simon Sheppard showing just what Guildford has been missing while he has been injured on the sidelines. The diminutive striker raced onto a through ball and finished with aplomb by chipping the keeper. This was not to be a one-sided encounter however and Banstead – who had easily beaten City 3-2 earlier in the season – came right back at them. Barely seconds after the goal, the visitors shot narrowly over and then minutes later nearly scored a wonder goal, when one of their pacey forwards broke through the Guildford defence only to shoot straight at Jay Gindre. At the other end Rob Parrott tried his luck from 18 yards out but his accurate shot was well held by Dave Hyatt, the Banstead keeper.

In the 16th minute Dan May broke through but appeared to be held back by a Banstead defender – surprisingly the referee gave a freekick in the other direction (maybe we missed something?) Eight minutes later it was all square – Kev Terry, Banstead’s No10, being put through on goal and volleying impressively past Gindre. It was City’s turn to try to wrest the momentum back and they made some promising attempts – some slick passing and a back heel into Rob Parrott’s path in the 25th minute resulting only in a cross going narrowly out of play and then 6 minutes later, Lee O’Donnell flicking a freekick from the edge of the box just wide with his head. Lee was again in the thick of the action in the 36th minute but Simon Sheppard could not quite get to his wonderfully delivered cross. Another chance beckoned a minute later though when Aneel Azeem was brought down on the edge of the Banstead box. Dan May stepped up and curled a delightful shot into the net with the keeper rooted to the spot. 2-1 and the momentum had been handed back to the home side yet again. Paul Andrews consolidated the lead with a fabulous Bobby Moore-esque tackle to deny a Banstead player on the edge of the City penalty area and then in the dying seconds of the half, Lee O’Donnell yet again popped up to send in a great header which the Banstead keeper only just got his fingertips to.

This was indeed a great spectacle for the City fans – and what a shame they were not quite there in the numbers they had been on Wednesday. Still those that were there were in good voice, singing the Chairman’s name (‘Shahid Azeemio’ to the tune of La Fortuna!) and the linesman’s name (‘Honey give us a wave’ – yet another official with an unfortunate surname, this time it was Richard Honey!) Even ‘Danny May the new Gandhi’ had another rendition although I’m sure Dan is still puzzling over why he is being prepared to one of the 20th Century’s greatest pacifists and world leaders!!

So the game resumed and did not disappoint with a another thrilling 45 minutes of football. The home side seemed determined to close the game out and made a good start – winning a corner in the 48th minute and a minute later nearly scoring through a deflected shot which nearly lobbed the Banstead keeper. Their early optimism was unfounded however as the visitors levelled the scores in the 53rd minute – one of their midfielders sending in a wonderful cross which missed everyone but that man Kev Terry who was lurking at the far post and turned the ball into the net. Guildford had time to surge up the pitch from the kick-off and force a good save from Dave Hyatt and a corner which was hacked away by the Banstead defenders. Barely thirty seconds later the visitors were on the attack again and if there was one player the home side did not want to see baring down on them it was Kev Terry. True to form he broke through the Guildford defence and yet again finished clinically in the top corner.

It was the home side’s turn to be chasing the game and it was plain to see they were a little shell-shocked by the two quick-fire goals. Professionalism kicked in though and they set about re-gaining their foothold in the game – Dan May a little unlucky not to connect with a good cross in the 61st minute. Back came Banstead though and Guildford would have had a few words to say if Jay hadn’t come out to smother a through ball which had been passed to a clearly offside Banstead player. Seven minutes later, the visitors again went close, volleying just wide of City’s post. At the other end though, the home side were starting to benefit from a new set of legs in the form of Dean Peltohaka. In the 71st minute he put in a pinpoint cross which Dan May only needed to connect with to score – somehow unfortunately, Dan contrived to head wide, to the bemusement of just about everyone on the pitch! A minute later however, Dean saved Dan’s blushes by running through the Banstead defence, having his initial shot saved but then finishing from a neat cross across the face of goal. Guildford were back in it but the match was so evenly poised it really could go either way.

Eleven minutes from time Banstead had their best chance to win the game, a powerful shot flying towards goal through a crowded penalty area but being cleared by some desperate defending. Two minutes later Rob Parrott appeared to be pulled down in the visitors penalty area prompting calls for a spot kick from around the ground – unfortunately all Rob earned was a yellow card. Both sets of players had given their all and the match was threatening to fade into a richly absorbing 3-3 draw when Rob Parrott put in yet another excellent cross in the 87th minute. Who should be there to turn it into the net but Dan May – he must have been breathing a huge sigh of relief when it hit the back of the net sealing three points and a guaranteed second place in the league for Guildford City. Party time at Bedfont next week then!

GUILDFORD CITY: J. Gindre; A. Wylde (sub B. Thorne, 65); L. O’Donnell; M. Tomlinson; P. Andrews; R. Parrott; D. Rice (sub D. Peltohaka, 65); R. White; D. May; S. Sheppard; A. Azeem

Subs not used: M. Mercer; M. Edwards

BANSTEAD ATHLETIC: D. Hyatt; T. Jelley; S. Hewitt (sub D. Marvell, 57); L. Amena; J. King; N. Brown; O. Adams (sub R. Watts, 57); R. Aslan; M. Corbett; K. Terry; D. Banu

Subs not used: C. Leworthy; D. Tidy;