Horley Town 5 – 2 Guildford City (Premier Challenge Cup Third Round)

CITY crashed out of the Premier Cup in this decisive encounter at the New Defence. Much credit can be given to the Guildford side however which as a result of a number of factors, largely consisted of youth and squad players. Three nil down at half time, they deserve real credit for forcing their way back into the game to make it 3-2 at one point in the second half and showing real resilience to keep their hosts at bay for long periods. Experience won out however and Horley Town went on to score two more goals to close out the match convincingly and progress to the last 8.

There was a disappointing turnout for this match – largely because of it being midweek and the New Defence being quite an awkward place to get to without a car. Even Horley’s amazing clubhouse – which looks more like a sports centre and has a bar offering panoramic views of the entire pitch – was not able to tempt the Sweeney fans out. Unfortunately one of these offenders was myself – yet again a match had clashed with having to work late and as this game kicked off, I was sitting on the officials’ bench in the House of Lords listening to a very long winded debate about the Planning Bill. Hey ho what can you do? Consequently I am very grateful to Paul Milton for supplying the details of this game and for highlighting the impressive performances from several members of the team. Thanks also to the Horley Town captain to supplying the lineup and scorers from their side.

The visiting side had very much a makeshift look to it. The unfortunate Dave Tidy had had to assemble a side without seven cup tied first teamers and with two others out with the flu. As if this wasn’t enough, our player-manager had to watch the match from the sidelines, suffering with a heavy cold. Deputising for him between the sticks was Ali McQueen, the under 18 goalie, while into defence came a promising young right back called Josh Heather and Jamie Whitaker – making his first start for City after gaining a bench berth against Cove back in August. Luke Glazier and Dan Hunt completed the list of new faces – Glazier gaining a starting place with Hunt the sole substitute on the bench. Luckily there was smattering of experience as well – the City captain Andy Wylde being the most prominent – to ensure the young side were not completely overawed.

It has to be said that the visitors started the stronger – pushing their hosts on to the back foot in the opening minutes. It was unfortunate however that Horley were able to grab a goal against the run of play – Wilkinson slotting home to make it 1-0 in the 7th minute. This seemed to knock City’s confidence and they handed control of the game over to the Clarets for the rest of the half – the home side moving the ball around with far more confidence and notching again on 14 minutes courtesy of Collwijn. Guildford did well to hold their hosts at bay for the next 25 minutes or so – new keeper Ali McQueen and right back Josh Heather taking particular credit for this. They could not however, prevent Lavery from making it 3-0 in the 40th minute.

Beginning the second period three goals down, the youthful City side could have been forgiven for letting their heads drop and capitulating to a crickets score. To their enormous credit however, they did not let this happen. They came out of the blocks quickly and Matt Rothwell hammered in a well deserved goal to get the visitors off the mark five minutes after the restart. Things started to get promising just a few minutes later when Guildford won a penalty and Aneel Azeem stepped up to beat Simon Lockwood – the Horley Town goalie – and make it 2-0. Unfortunately City just could not maintain this high tempo and the home side gradually started to take control once again, although against a resilient City rearguard which kept them at bay until Gilbert fired home in the 70th minute. Scuttler then sealed the win with a goal four minutes later.

There had been many plus points for the visitors though – an impressive performance from Ali McQueen in goal, despite being beaten 5 times, and some excellent play from new right back Josh Heather which Moaning Tone described as one of the best performances by a young player he had ever seen. Yes there are plenty of positives emerging this season after a shaky start and while it would have been nice to have got our hands on some silverware Guildford can at least shift their focus to staying in the CCL Premier League, starting with the ‘6 pointer’ against Sandhurst on Saturday.

HORLEY TOWN: S. Lockwood; C. Weller; D. Guscott; A. Jupp; T. Winsor; A. Wilkinson; K. Lavery; M. Norris; M. Gilbert; M. Scuttler; J. Collwijn

Subs: J.Marquis, D.Roffey

GUILDFORD CITY: Ali McQueen; Josh Heather; M. Burns; J. Whitaker; A. Wylde; M. Beard; S. Sheppard; S. Wadge; M. Rothwell (sub Dan Hunt, 53); Luke Glazier; A. Azeem

Subs not used: None