Raynes Park Vale (2) 2, Guildford City (2) 3
by Barry Underwood
This victory at Grand Drive will go down as one of Guildford’s most memorable in recent times. Two goals down after 20 minutes and defending furiously, championship favourites Raynes Park looked to be heading for another routine victory. Guildford have flattered to deceive so far this season, although in spells it has been clear that they are a far better side than their early league position suggests. Guildford had opened the game confidently, but it was Raynes Park who took the lead after 12 minutes. A glorious cross field pass found Jermaine Green who ghosted into the box and beat Stuart Norman. With the backing of the home support Raynes Park poured forward and especially looked dangerous down the flanks. On 20 minutes it was 2-0. Stuart Norman saved the first attempt at the back post, but Ethon Archer was lurking to convert the loose ball.
What happened in the remainder of the half may change the course of the Guildford season. Raynes Park dominated possession but gradually City started making inroads going forward. After missing a shooting opportunity moments before, City brought themselves back into the game. Enow Ojong, who had earlier incurred his manager’s wrath for conceding possession too easily, struck guiding a first-time effort just inside the post. Raynes Park did see a close-range free kick clear the crossbar, but moments later Guildford had drawn level. Enow Ojong forged through the centre of defence and bearing down on goal he slid the ball past the advancing Billy Bishop.
Full of confidence after the break Guildford were now very much in the match. Immediately on the resumption a strong Zeid Hannachi run gave Jamie Pearce a shooting opportunity, but his attempted chip cleared the crossbar. Twice within a minute before the hour mark Stuart Norman saved well as Raynes Park pushed to restore their lead. On 65 minutes the visitors scored what proved to be the winner. Zeid Hannachi’s pinpoint corner was met by Lloyd Connelly and his glanced header looped up high into the net off of the back post. Guildford’s defence was disciplined and anything that breached the backline was effectively dealt with by Stuart Norman. A long-range effort from Ojong forced Bishop into a spectacular save, and until the end Guildford looked a danger. Deep in stoppage time ex-City hero Dan Moody clipped the crossbar from long range. But memorably this was City’s Day.
Team: Stuart Norman, Stephan Langley, Billy Nutbeam, Olly Edwardes (Joe Jarrett 80), Oliver Creed, Lloyd Connelly, Ashley Hitchinson, Zeid Hannachi, Jamie Pearce, Enow Ojong (Billy Murphy 76), Leon Dadey (Nathaniel Williams 90). Unused sub: Richard Shelley.
Referee: Shawn Barclay