Guildford City (3) 4, Abbey Rangers (1) 2
by Barry Underwood
Fourth place Abbey visited Wey Court in the throes of an injury crisis and performed commendably despite going down to a rejuvenated Guildford side by four goals to two. Guildford themselves has been no stranger to playing against the odds in recent weeks and certainly over a full season every side will face significant challenges.
The match was played throughout in dry weather and on a firm pitch which in itself is a rarity in recent weeks. Both sides prompted and probed in the early stages, and certainly Abbey looked comfortable in possession. It was the visitors who took the lead after 10 minutes. City conceded several free-kicks in their half early on and from one Luke Muldowney curled a magnificent effort over the wall and into the corner of the net. The home side responded almost immediately. A high ball forward saw Abbey keeper Jason McGregor under pressure from Andrew Mensah, and the ball fell loose to the lurking Kyen Nicholas who tucked the loose ball home. Guildford looked composed in the middle of the park, with the tall figure of new signing Theo Woodhouse impressing. On 25 minutes Guildford forged ahead when Andrew Mensah again did well up top to feed Eli Ogunseye on the right. Ogunseye’s first effort was well saved by McGregor but from the rebound the same player lashed the ball high into the top corner. The match was still quite even and Luke Beale made a fantastic block to prevent a dangerous situation. On 33 minutes Guildford nudged ahead to an important two goal lead. This time it was Kyen Nicholas who worked hard to close down McGregor, causing his rushed clearance to be intercepted by Jordan Gallagher. Gallagher skipped past a defender before shooting into the corner from 20 yards. In the closing minutes of the half Guildford had two further chances to put the game to bed. First Andrew Mensah was narrowly offside after a neat one-two with Nicholas, and seconds later Theo Woodhouse headed over from a free-kick.
Much of the second period saw Abbey in possession of the ball in the City half. But despite the possession Woodhouse and Band in the middle of the park worked their socks off to prevent Abbey gaining a clear sight of the Guildford goal. City did have an early chance to extend their lead. A long free-kick into the Abbey box was flicked on by Dan Band but Eli Ogunseye couldn’t control his volley which cleared the crossbar. On the hour Andrew Mensah turned sharply in the box but his shot lacked power and went wide. The match became a little niggly as the half developed and in total the referee entered six players into the notebook. As the game entered its final stages Guildford should have put the game to bed. Kyen Nicholas was put through one on one but his early shot went wide. A minute later on 77 minutes substitute Tom Griffin did well down the right and his teasing cross just eluded the stretching Nicholas. Five minutes later Nicholas couldn’t get the ball down properly and another chance was lost. When Harry Taylor scored for Abbey with five minutes remaining it looked as if City might rue their missed chances. There was therefore audible relief when Tom Griffin – just back from eight weeks out with a broken ankle – scooted through and smashed a shot from the edge of the box past McGregor. In stoppage time Abbey managed to hit the woodwork but it was to be City’s day as they gained an impressive win to take them into Christmas.
Team: Stuart Norman, Sean Mason, Isy Nzelo, Dan Band, Nemo Adams, Luke Beale, Eli Ogunseye, Theo Woodhouse (Alex Cooper 74), Kyen Nicholas, Andrew Mensah (Tom Griffin 76), Jordan Gallagher (Nathaniel Williams 80). Unused subs: Chris Tancock, Billy Irving.
Referee: Connor Fanelli
Attendance – 68