AFC Croydon (1) 2, Guildford City (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
Pre-match hopes were high that after an excellent win at Raynes Park the previous week, that Guildford could build on that result and gain some momentum. But thus far this season it is proving difficult to perform for the full 90 minutes of a match. In spells the side has shown that they can mix it with the best but with this result the quest for a “full” performance goes on. Around the hour mark and with a triple substitution off the bench, City transformed themselves and looked a different side. In that last half hour City dominated proceedings and a point could have been justified, although for their overall performance it is hard to take the credit from former manager Kevin Rayner’s AFC Croydon side.
It was a fairly frantic start to the game with little between the sides. Guildford had early half chances when Zeid Hannachi headed over an Ashley Hitchinson cross, whilst later Hitchinson’s attempted lob comfortably cleared the crossbar. On 29 minutes the home side took the lead. Having gained momentum in the game they passed the ball around the edge of the box before finding space for Alfie Young to shoot home. Just before the break the London side narrowly missed the target with a header. City did respond when Billy Murphy put Hitchinson into space, but he was narrowly judged offside.
Guildford’s hopes of getting back into the game took a knock shortly after the restart when Emiliano Lika found space to extend Croydon’s lead. There followed immediately the introduction of Leon Dadey and debutants Darijus Sulnis and Aidan Holland off the bench. Jamil Salah returning from long tern injury soon followed and the quartets’ introduction turned the game in City’s favour. Within minutes the visitors had pulled a goal back. After a scramble in the box the ball was returned into the danger area and with his first significant touch Aidan Holland headed into the corner of the net. With 20 minutes remaining a City corner caused consternation in the box and Holland’s effort shot inches wide of the post. Croydon did have the ball in the net again, but it was ruled offside, and City breathed a sigh of relief. With 10 minutes remaining a long-range Billy Nutbeam shot was comfortably saved. Minutes later an impressive Leon Dadey drove into the box but blazed an effort over the bar. A similar Dadey run into the danger area saw him go down after being clipped but amidst the bodies the referee didn’t have a view. Five minutes into stoppage time Guildford thought they had rescued a point. A close-range Langley header was brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar by Oshane Brown in the home goal. With the goal seemingly gaping the rebound was smashed goalward only for Brown to again miraculously block the attempt. So, disappointment again for Guildford. Undoubtedly the ability is there but a 90-minute performance would make the world of difference.
Team: Stuart Norman, Stephan Langley, Jake Rumble, Olly Edwardes, Oliver Creed, Lloyd Connelly, Ashley Hitchinson (Jamal Saleh 59), Billy Nutbeam, Billy Murphy (Aidan Holland 54), Zeid Hannachi (Darijus Sulnis 54), Timmy Taylor (Leon Dadey 54). Unused sub: Richard Shelley.
Referee: Oliver Hind
Attendance – 39