Balham (0) 1, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
There was no doubting Guildford’s effort and the work rate at Mayfield Road. But again, their lack of a cutting edge in attack was to cost the side dear. Throughout the match there was little to choose between the sides. There were difficult half chances for the visitors. The first of these came on five minutes when Ashley Hitchinson stretched to head Jamie Pearce’s deep cross but the ball went wide. City enjoyed good early possession and Hitchinson again made contact with a cross but the effort was comfortably saved. Gradually Balham grew into the game and mid-half Tom Read – now returned from Met Police FC – saw an effort clear the bar from the left edge of the box. Moments later a Balham header from a corner cleared the crossbar. Jack Webb was back in the City side after a three month study trip to Ghana, and on 27 minutes he appeared at the back post to volley a cross over the bar. Tommy Brunton was impressive throughout in midfield for Guildford, and on 35 minutes he came close to scoring when his in-swinging corner almost deceived the home keeper. Just prior to the interval Balham themselves came close when Stuart Norman saved brilliantly from a close-range header.
The only goal of the game came five minutes after the restart. Balham found space on the right where Ray Moore took an excellent first touch and fired home spectacularly. On the hour mark another half chance for City saw Tommy Brunton’s volley from the edge of the box go wide. The ball just would not fall kindly in the box as exemplified on 66 minutes when a flick on from a long throw fell in the danger area but inches beyond Billy Nutbeam. It was a surprisingly lenient performance from the referee but a frustrated exchange of words saw Ash Hitchinson visit the sin bin. Try as they might City couldn’t force a late equaliser and at the death, as City pushed forward, Balham might have scored a second but Moore’s effort trickled past the post.
Team: Stuart Norman, Shane Cheeseman, Billy Nutbeam (Joel Shepherd 82), Tommy Brunton (Enow Ojong 84), Campbell Scott, Jamie Pearce, Jack Webb (Sam Hunt 76), Ashley Hitchinson, Cameron Gyeabour, Scott Costello, Ethan Lindo (Jamil Saleh 59). Unused sub: Neil Roissetter
Referee: Jonathan Was
Attendance – 45