Guildford City (0) 1, Spelthorne Sports (1) 1
City win 5-4 on Penalties 
by Barry Underwood 

It was a tense finish at the Spectrum last evening as Guildford successfully came through this Combined Counties League cup tie via a penalty shoot-out. City were facing their nemesis club Spelthorne Sports who for a number of years have had the advantage over City. It looked for quite a period in the first half that that run of results would continue as City didn’t quite look at the races. Josh Bullen did see an early header go wide but largely it was Spelthorne who were making inroads. It was no surprise therefore when they took the lead on 13 minutes. A ball into the left channel was crossed low and Jordan Pinder was on hand to tuck the ball home. The home side didn’t lack possession but too often the final pass went astray under pressure from Spelthorne’s pressing game. Guildford did come close though when Mike Coppinger jinked past a number of defenders in a tight space and forced keeper Henry Poole into a fine save low down. Three times during the first half City were indebted to Mike McEntegart who kept his side in the game with fine saves; the third of which was exceptional forcing a piledriver over the bar from close range. Late in the half Omar Folkes and Isy Nzelo saw headers go wide, but generally the service out wide was below par in the first period.

The second half opened in similar fashion to the first period.  With the game approaching an hour Guildford had a golden chance to draw level. Nathaniel Mensah and Omar Folkes combined to set up the returning Isy Nzelo in front of goal. Somehow, and I don’t think the player knows how, he failed to make significant contact and the chance was lost. Guildford started to dominate territorially but there seemed an air of frustration about their play. This was exemplified by Mike Coppinger going to the sin bin on 67 minutes. Minutes later Yannick Monga entered the fray off of the bench and the momentum of the game changed. On 72 minutes Ben Cotton delicately lifted a pass into the path of Prince Mbengui who shot beyond Poole into the corner of the net. Now back on level terms City’s performance lifted dramatically. During the last ten minutes especially, the hosts threw everything at the Spelthorne goal. Nathaniel Mensah and Mike Coppinger both went close, whilst Omar Folkes twice forced Poole and his frantic defence into last ditch blocks. But try as they might City couldn’t force the winner and the lottery of penalty-kicks beckoned.

The penalty competition was an almost model display of penalty kicks. The first eight kicks were converted with Mike Coppinger, Nathaniel Mensah, Ben Cotton and Prince Mbengui netting for City. Unfortunately for Spelthorne their fifth attempt of the evening struck the post, meaning a successful attempt from Fred Hill would win the tie. Hill seemed the calmest person in the stadium and his low shot into the corner means that City will host Fleet Town in the next round.

Team: Michael McEntegart, Isy Nzelo, Fred Hill, James Glover, Antonio Simeone, Prince Mbengui, Ben Cotton, Mike Coppinger, Omar Folkes, Nathaniel Mensah, Josh Bullen (Yannick Monga 71). Unused subs: Josh Everard, Joe Monday, JJ Faulkner, Luke Roberts.

Referee: Gifford Manyange

Attendance – 88