Guildford City (2) 2, Fleet Town (2) 5
by Barry Underwood 

After a thrilling first-half Guildford showed their defensive frailties after the break to crash out of their last cup competition of the season. With resources stretched two U18 players Liam Maher and Aidan Gerber were given their first team debuts. City’s first half performance was their best of the post-Bull era and as the whistle blew for the interval it was hard to imagine the game ending in the fashion it did. Gianluca Zanre Botti had two shooting chances in the first ten minutes; the second of which whistled just over the crossbar. Guildford maintained the pressure and neat footwork from Ethan Etukudo saw him rattle the crossbar, with a shot on the rebound from Zanre Botti being deflected for a corner. Minutes later Guildford hit the crossbar for a second time in the first 15 minutes. This time it was Adam Green who smashed a 30-yard free kick against the woodwork. The visitors were slower to settle, and their first effort came from a shot over the bar on 20 minutes. Five minutes later City took a deserved lead, although there was an air of good fortune about the goal. Roux Hardcastle in the Fleet goal lost possession just outside of his box and Nathaniel Mensah had the relatively simple of task of passing the ball into the net. The lead didn’t last long however. A ball behind the defence gave Shamir Pettet the opportunity to round the advancing Jack Coleman and tuck the ball home. Within another three minutes the game had turned completely. City gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the park and Billy Oram didn’t need a second invitation to advance and smash home an effort from 25 yards. A set back it was but Guildford still pushed forward. Zanre Botti swivelled and shot just past the post, and on 39 minutes City deservedly draw level. Nathaniel Mensah and a defender were in a race for a through ball. The ball fell neatly to Mensah in the box who shot low under Hardcastle’s body. Just prior to the half-time whistle City might have gone ahead when Ethan Etukudo appeared to have been brought down in the six-yard box. The referee waved play on, and it is now 29 games since Guildford were awarded a penalty.

After the excitement of the first half, the second period was very disappointing for home fans. Guildford’s influence on the game largely disappeared and Fleet for their part found joy in firing long balls at City’s teenage defenders. Nine minutes into the half Dan Bone blasted home after being in space on the right, as did Billy Oram in similar fashion 10 minutes later. Guildford’s best chance of the half came when Lewis Inglis put Gianluca Zanre Botti into a shooting position but sadly his attempt from outside the box wasn’t hit cleanly and it bobbled wide. The fifth goal came on 74 minutes.  A Guildford defender was dispossessed in his own six-yard box and Elliot Amadieu calmly slotted home. The game generally died away, but City would have been disappointed to have seen such a promising opening fall away in such fashion.

Team: Jack Coleman, Adam Green, Kyrell Palmer, Liam Maher, Lawson Bright, Kyron Richards, Billy Connor, Gianluca Zanre Botti (Aidan Gerber 79), Ethan Etukudo (Zac Seys 61), Lewis Inglis, Nathaniel Mensah. Unused subs: Campbell Scott, Faris Khallouqi, Connor Gray.

Referee: Steven Conway

Attendance – 70