Balham (3) 4, Guildford City (0) 0
by Barry Underwood
The pre-match sight of several Guildford City players introducing themselves to their teammates said a lot for the position City find themselves in currently. In the aftermath of managerial upheaval players have departed in significant numbers leaving the stand-in management team the herculean task of recruiting players days before the signing’s deadline. To be fair the front line had a strong look about it, with the midfield non too shabby either. Defensively the side were inexperienced but former Chertsey and Walton & Hersham goalkeeper Lewis Gallifent made his debut between the sticks.
City made a competent start and on five minutes they might have won a penalty when Billy Connor, returning from injury, was brought down on the right edge of the box. It was 50/50 whether it was in or out of the box, but it mattered not because incredibly the referee deemed there was no foul. On 11 minutes Balham went ahead when from a corner an unmarked player headed home. Six minutes later from another set piece Balham went two up. The ball was headed towards goal where Adam Green did splendidly to head the ball off the line. Sadly, the home side were alert to the rebound and the ball was driven into the corner. After just 22 minutes Balham turned the ball in from 15 yards for a third and the writing was on the wall. It could have been worse save for Adam Green making a brilliant double clearance off the line. Twice after the half hour Guildford had sighters on goal; first Billy Connor shooting wide and then Mark Watkins seeing a half volley comfortably saved. Seconds before the half-time whistle Campbell Scott scrambled another effort off the line. It was a chastening experience for the young City side.
Credit to City for an improved second half performance. The ball wasn’t given away so often and certainly there was no doubting the effort expended on what was a warm afternoon. That said Lewis Gallifent was forced into a fine save on 50 minutes. Balham then missed a good opportunity before for City Nathaniel Mensah had a snapshot from outside the box that went wide. On the hour Balham saw a header at the back post go over the bar, whilst for the visitors Billy Connor twice lifted challenging crosses into the box; the second of which just eluded Ethan Etukudo and then hit Zac Seys before he could react. Kailan North and Mark Watkins both saw attempts comfortably saved. Late on Lewis Gallifent twice saved well before in the final minute Balham scored their fourth after a neat passing move.
Team: Lewis Gallifent, Sam Drew (Zac Seys 60), Adam Green, Kyron Richards, Campbell Scott, Lawson Bright, Billy Connor, Kailan North, Ethan Etukudo (Fariz Khallouqi 78), Nathaniel Mensah, Mark Watkins (Adam Williams 78). Unused subs: Jack Coleman, Alberto Santana.
Referee: Gareth Burton