CITY were once again involved in an 8 goal thriller as they travelled to this midweek game against CCL Premier League new boys Hanworth Villa. Yet again they let a substantial lead slip – 2-0 up at halftime courtesy of a brace from Lance Banton-Brown, City were drawing 2-2 within 12 minutes of the re-start. A controversial Sean Rivers penalty put the Surrey side ahead once more only for Villa to again equalise, courtesy of some dodgy defending from set pieces. There was time, thank goodness, to put the match beyond Hanworth’s reach as Jamie Thoroughgood scored his first ever goal for Guildford and Lance sealed the win and his hat trick with a decidedly scrappy 5th goal.
Getting to a midweek game in Middlesex was not a straightforward matter and there was a bit of panic before the match as to how Brian the kitman was going to get up there. Luckily a bit of sweet-talking from Eddie persuaded Matt H and Joe to give Brian a lift, and they were joined by Dave S when they arrived – his journey a bit easier as his new work placement had started in Ealing. Villa’s ground, Rectory Meadow, had a great clubhouse and we were all extremely impressed with the burgers on sale. Outside, it was clear the pitch and stands were in a transition between CCL Div 1 and Premier with trees preventing any watching of the match behind one end of the ground. All-in-all though this was a place with good potential and friendly staff/committee members.
It is fair to say that Guildford shaded the first half, creating the majority of chances (although not without a few scares). Danny Elgar and Anthony Bridgeman received loads of room down the wings and Villa’s defence seemed shakey at best. It was Lance who forged the first decent chance in the 4th minute, shredding his marker with his pace but firing straight into the keeper’s arms. A minute later Jamie King nearly forced a goal after his header was pushed out by Terry Buss, the Hanworth keeper, and only just gathered at the second attempt. More chances came the visitors way – Lance twice breaking through but failing to trouble the goalie. All this attacking play was leaving space at the back however and Hanworth should have done a lot better in the 10th minute – a player going one-on-one with the keeper and looking nailed on to score before shanking his shot horribly wide. City won a throw-in moments later, deep in their opponents half and Rivers turned and tried to lob the keeper from 30 yards – it nearly worked!
The home side responded, winning two corners and firing wide of goal before City had yet another good spell of pressure. First Lance was brought down near the byline, with the freekick drifting behind and then Bridgeman went on a rampage down the right wing, unleashing a ferocious shot which went inches wide of the post. Back came the home side though, going extremely close with a header. It was Guildford who deservedly pulled ahead in the 23rd minute – another dangerous cross from Elgar not being properly dealt with by Villa’s defence and Lance firing home the loose ball. Things got even better three minutes later after a brilliant piece of overlapping play down the right wing. Elgar sent an inch perfect ball parallel to the touchline for Graham Tydeman to run onto, the City right back then firing a slide-rule pass into the path of Lance who slotted the ball home to make it 2-0.
City were very much in control of the game at this moment and, had we not known our club so well, we should have been extremely confident of victory. Guildford continued to dominate, penning Hanworth into their half and switching the ball between the two wingers almost at will. Several corners ensued and culminated in Jamie King firing a powerful shot straight into the keeper’s arms. Lance then broke through again for the umpteenth time in the game but again his shot went into the keeper’s arms. The half concluded with a flurry of activity from both sides. First Villa went within a whisker of pulling a goal back – a powerful shot from the edge of the box being kept out by Hall but falling loose before Penson hooked it behind in the nick of time. Villa then fired wide from the resulting corner. At the other end another Elgar cross nearly found the head of Bridgey but was ultimately cleared.
Halftime was a good opportunity to catch up with the students, particularly Joe and Dave who we hadn’t seen for some time. We were also given some great hospitality in the Villa clubhouse. It was almost tempting to stay in there with our pints but we managed to summon up the willpower to head out for the restart.
Hanworth began the second half strongly but for the first five minutes or so, City were able to contain them. At the other end another good run from Bridgey led to the ball falling to Lance in the box and then being laid off to Jamie King who unfortunately skewed his shot wide. In the 54th minute a Villa defender brought down Lance and Ben Rayner fired a freekick just over the bar from the edge of the box. With things looking comfortable, City gave away a penalty when the ball was handled in the box. Adam Pigott stepped up and made no mistake, firing to Antony Hall’s left to reduce the deficit to 2-1. Barely had we drawn breath than Villa had equalised – a long ball finding Lee Higgs who tore past the sleeping City defenders and finished clinically past Hall.
Why was this feeling so familiar? Suddenly Villa seemed to have a new lease of life and they started putting City on the rack. They were unlucky not to go ahead in the 62nd minute when a shot fired from an extreme angle went just over the bar. Crucially though they could not put their noses ahead and Guildford started to regain their composure, winning a corner a few minutes later which they could not capitalise on. In the 68th minute Lance was released down the centre once again, tore into the box and appeared to be brought down. Again the referee pointed to the spot and Sean Rivers stepped up to take the spotkick. The City striker sent his shot down the middle and it was saved by the legs of Buss. The ref pointed to the centre circle but the linesman was flagging that the keeper had been off his line. Villa were understandably furious but the kick was re-taken and this time Rivers fired the ball confidently home to put the visitors ahead once more.
Guildford could and should have killed the game off but inexplicably they started to sit back and suddenly Villa were again making chances. A powerful shot rippled the side netting in the 73rd minute before the home side once again levelled the scores. A freekick was won near the byline around 20 yards out and another high ball was floated into the box and headed home by yet another member of the Buss clan (there were three of them on the pitch – this time it was Mark). The pressure continued and we all started getting very pessimistic, such is City’s capacity to throw away winning positions this season. Villa won a corner that failed to trouble City before winning another dangerous freekick – Hall plucking the ball superbly from the air. Guildford finally went on the offensive and won a freekick on the edge of the box after Jamie King was fouled in the 82nd minute – the Hanworth player earning himself a yellow card in the process. The delivery was excellent and Jamie Thoroughgood rose unmarked to head home his first ever goal for Guildford City and raise a cheer from the beleaguered fans.
The match was far from over and a few minutes later Villa managed to head wide from a corner with the net gaping. Yet amid the pressure, the home side won a throw in that was cleared up the pitch and latched onto by Lance. The City striker rode a challenge in the box, saw his first shot rebound and then his second squirm under the keeper and into the net. There was time for a contentious corner in the final minute of stoppage time which the home side were adamant had crossed the line, before the referee blew for fulltime.
HANWORTH VILLA: T. Buss; C. Byron; A. Buss (S. Doran, 90+4); D. Whatford; D. Noad; C. Hare (D. Antonio, 77); G. Jenkins; M. Buss; A. Pigott; S. Loveridge; L. Higgs
Subs not used: J. Layden; L. Stevenson
GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; G. Tydeman; T. Tydeman; T. Penson; J. Thoroughgood; J. King; A. Bridgeman; B. Rayner (T. Lineker, 83); S. Rivers (K. Tracey, 90); L. Banton-Brown (L. Bradnick, 90+2); D. Elgar
Subs not used: J. Turner; G. Adesina
Referee: R. Wells