Balham (0) 2, Guildford City (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
After an excellent start to their league season Guildford City now need it seems the rub of the green with decisions to get back on track. This was far from City’s most fluent performance, but they didn’t deserve to lose this match. The home supporters after the match were almost embarrassed about their good fortune. Manager Tristan Rees was incandescent after the game but was wisely guarded with his comments.
In the opening moments City saw an Owen Sims free kick well saved by Jack Gordon in the Balham goal. Minutes later Guildford broke forward in numbers and Sims powerful shot from the edge of the box was blocked when a pass to an overlapping colleague might have been a better option. The visitors were almost made to pay when possession was lost cheaply in midfield and from a breakaway Balham hit the inside of the post before the ball was cleared. This spurred the home side and Mac Chisholm saved well with his legs to keep the match goalless. On 22 minutes City missed a great chance to score. A defensive error allowed Kai Beck to nick the ball and run into the box. Crucially though his pull back went behind the onrushing Will May. The prolific Tom Read forced Chisholm into a diving save, and for long periods there was little between the sides. The first contentious moment of the game saw Will May kicked from behind on the edge of the box. It was once again a clear penalty denied to Guildford. The game wound on in its scrappy way and the only other half chance saw Kai Beck stretch to head a corner wide.
Guildford were an improved side after the break and within minutes of the restart they came close. After a spell of pressure Owen Tanner lobbed the ball back into the box where Kai Beck volleyed over the bar from eight yards. On 50 minutes Balham netted at the near post but with the striker clearly yards offside, and the assistant flagging all seemed well from a Guildford viewpoint. But no, the referee said later that he had seen a deflection off a defender that played the goal scorer onside. Never mind that inadvertent deflections don’t play people onside! So, chasing the game yet again things deteriorated when City conceded what looked a soft penalty. Debating this cost Callum Wilson 10 minutes in the sin bin. Tom Read made no mistake from the spot and City were two goals in arrears. Stirred emotionally by a sense of injustice Guildford started to look the more dangerous of the sides. Owen Sims screwed a first time shot wide from Taylor’s cross, but City finally got on the scoresheet on 77 minutes. A free kick was played into the box by Owen Sims and James Glover managed to direct his header inside the post. Late in the game City should have faced 10 men. Balham’s Luke Hedges was booked for a poor challenge, and two minutes later he went straight through another City player to merely earn a talking to. Balham’s bench knew the score by immediately subbing their man. There was a lengthy period of stoppage time during which Guildford pushed hard, with several set-pieces fired into the box aimed at all 10 players including goalkeeper. Almost on the final whistle there was an almighty scramble a yard from the Balham goal line during which Gordon made a vital block. Frustrating this match most certainly was!
Team: Mac Chisholm, Lewis Taylor, Tolu Ajayi-Obe (Manny Acheampong 65), Callum Wilson, James Glover, Niall Stillwell, Owen Sims, Owen Tanner (Ben Thompson 90), Will May (Ethan Cassie 65), Finley Warren, Kai Beck. Unused subs: Louis Lindsay, Jake Heighes.
Referee: Gulam Damji
Attendance – 38