Guildford City (0) 0, Raynes Park Vale (3) 3

by Barry Underwood

Back in September Guildford City had claimed victory against Raynes Park but their odds of repeating the exercise at the Spectrum fell dramatically with a red card after just 10 minutes of the match. If results had fallen the right way on the evening Raynes Park might have been crowned champions at the evening’s end. In the event decision day moved onto another occasion, but Raynes Park played their part scoring three times in the first-half to claim another three points.

The visitor’s opened the scoring after seven minutes. City keeper Stuart Norman tipped Tom Barnes volley onto the crossbar, and defender Archie Harland-Goddard was on hand to head the loose ball home. Minutes later there was an off theball altercation that few people saw but led to Andy Matthews being dismissed from the field. On 20 minutes another defender Reece Hannigan got on the scoresheet for Vale’s second goal; his low effort from the edge of the box creeping into the net via the post. To their credit Guildford twice came close themselves. Ashley Hitchinson did well to keep the ball in and from his cross Scott Costello shot narrowly wide. Minutes later a Tom Hegarty long throw saw Hitchinson himself creep between defenders to volley just wide of the post. At Raynes Park’s Grand Drive ground, City had come back from a two-goal deficit to win in September. But Ethon Archer’s shot into the bottom corner on 38 minutes for a third goal made a repeat victory extremely unlikely.

Once again to their credit City rallied after the break, and chances at either end were few and far between. Guildford’s best passing move came just prior to the hour when Shane Rideout and Paul Maas combined before Maas’s shot was blocked at full stretch. Both sides introduced a raft of substitutes as the half developed. Raynes Park could have scored a fourth. Stuart Norman saved well with his legs and the resulting loose ball was blasted over the bar. With minutes to go Shiloh O’Connor’s powerful 20 yarder was parried by Bishop in the visitor’s goal. Shortly after the final whistle blew with Raynes Park left within a whisker of the championship.

Team: Stuart Norman, Ashley Hitchinson, Leon Dadey(Stephan Langley 59), Campbell Scott, Andy Matthews, Tom Hegarty (Jamie Pearce 45), Scott Costello, Tommy Brunton(Jack Webb 77), Shane Rideout (Shiloh O’Connor 68), Paul Maas (Jamil Saleh 75), Cameron Gyeabour.

Referee: Pat Nixon

Attendance – 132