Raynes Park Vale 2 – 1 Guildford City

GUILDFORD ended their 7 match unbeaten run with this disappointing defeat against struggling Raynes Park Vale.  On a wind and rain-swept pitch, City started well, and scored thanks to a Lance Banton-Brown header early on.  The lead was shortlived however as a goalkeeping mistake by Hall allowed a freekick to creep in at his near post.  For all their endeavour, City seemed to run out of ideas in the second period and Raynes Park sneaked a winner after a defensive mix up.

This was an extremely odd day, weather-wise.  By turns through the match we had bright sunshine, dark angry clouds and torrential rain – all the time with a chilling wind battering Raynes Park’s exposed ground.  Added to that Kevin Rayner was a few faces short thanks to a leaving do the night before – some players finding it physically impossible to turn up thanks to a bit of over indulgence!  Nevertheless Kev was able to put out a strong side, albeit with the Guildford match secretary on the bench as a backstop!

City could have scored almost immediately, winning a corner, taking it short and a good delivery being whipped in.  Jamie Thoroughgood got his head to the ball but it flew inches over the bar.  The home side were looking lively however and Marc Skinner did well in the 5th minute to beat Tom Penson and cross into Guildford’s undefended penalty area – no one picking up the pass.  A minute later Dave Ellard – Vale’s standout player in this game – hit an excellent shot from the edge of the box which just missed the target.  The match settled down a little and both sides probed away without making any decisive breakthrough.  In the 15th minute Vale had another opportunity – Aaron Ageyman breaking through but choosing to pass to Skinner instead of going for glory, his pass being poorly directed.

Somewhat against the run of play it was City who took the lead some three minutes later.  A perfect cross came in from the right hand side of the pitch and Lance Banton-Brown rose unmarked to head it beyond the helpless Vale goalie Chris Erdergill.  Vale did not let their heads drop and won a corner almost immediately – Ben Rayner heading clear – and went on the attack again before being dispossessed in the box.  City took advantage and a good clearance by James Brown was latched onto by Banton-Brown, the City striker dragging his shot wide from the edge of the box.  Two minutes later, Shaun Carroway, doing an admirable job as a makeshift right back, hit an inch perfect cross to Luke Bradnick.  Luke got goalside of his marker but couldn’t pull the trigger in time.

The match was extremely even at this point but City were being made to work hard to contain the pace and guile of Ellard and Ageyman.  In the 29th minute Hall had to use impeccable judgement to clear the ball with a sliding kick just before the Vale striker got to it.  He was not so impressive from a freekick on the edge of the area just two minutes later.  The shot was hit low, evading the wall and catching out the City goalie who despite getting his hand to it, couldn’t stop it creeping in.  This equaliser galvanised Guildford and they pushed forward with a new found sense of purpose.  Cooper saw a shot blocked in the 34th minute and Bradnick, after showing some skill to evade his marker was similarly frustrated.  With Vale on the back foot, the visitors notched two decent efforts before the break – Danny Elgar firing just over the bar from the edge of the box and Lance putting a shot wide from 6 yards out after another good pass from Carroway.

There seemed every chance to think City could regain their lead in the second half.  However it was Vale who signalled their intent from the kick off, trying a shot on goal from the centre circle much to everyone’s surprise.  Despite this the visitors looked sharper for the opening minutes – Luke Bradnick shooting wide from the edge of the box after a corner in the 48th minute.  A minute later Danny Elgar beat the keeper to a clearance near the byline but he could not shoot into the empty net from the extreme angle.  Banton-Brown then fired over with a decent effort in the 51st minute.  The home side started to come back into the game and Hall did well to push a flicked header onto the bar, after a throw in.  Dave Ellard then fired narrowly wide after a good cross in the 64th minute.  City responded and had a great chance a minute later – Lance being released down the left hand side but with only the keeper to beat, choosing to square the ball – the Vale defenders easily blocking the resulting shot.  The Guildford striker then almost had a stroke of luck when his cross was caught by the wing but Erdergill was just able to catch the ball before it flew into the net.

More chances came the visitors’ way but they seemed unable to make an impression on Vale’s tough defence.  A corner and several freekicks in the 74th and 75th minutes were easily cleared and City looked to be increasingly running out of ideas.  Things got even worse in the 82nd minute when Shaun Carroway heeded Hall’s request to throw the ball to him.  Unfortunately the wind seemed to catch the ball, allowing Ellard to nip in and shoot past the helpless Hall.

The remainder of the match was one of high frustration.  In the 88th minute a clever freekick resulted in the ball being dinked over the wall to Jamie Thoroughgood but the defender could not keep the ball in play.  Danny Elgar then tried his luck with a decent effort from distance.  As the clock ticked into stoppage time, Lance tried an audacious backheel and Jamie Thoroughgood a header but all in vain, and Vale celebrated taking all three points and securing their CCL Premier Division survival.

GUILDFORD CITY: A. Hall; S. Carroway (T. Arnold 85); T. Penson; S. Cooper; J. Thoroughgood; A. Bridgeman; J. Brown; B. Rayner; L. Banton-Brown; L. Bradnick (S. Elgar 62); D. Elgar

Subs not used: L. Simpson; J. Holloway; Matt Howell (yes the fixtures sec!)

Booked: None

RAYNES PARK VALE: C. Erdergill; S. Carpenter (J. Williamson 79); T. Dawson; L. Harkness; M. Skinner; E. Sempa; D. Molsey; G. Bolger; D. Ellard; A. Ageyman; M. Jordan

Subs not used: D. Rondeau; F. Remizi; R. Toulson; E. Cornwell

Booked: None

Referee: G. Mays