Season Review 2011/12

After the bittersweet emotions of last season, winning the league but being denied promotion, Guildford City had a point to prove this term and set about it in the best way possible. Four straight wins and sixteen goals started the season.  After the previous year’s heroic FA Cup run, hopes were high for something similar this season but the side fell at the first hurdle. Farnham Town provided the opposition in the Extra Preliminary Round and, against the odds, come out 1-0 victors thanks to a debatable penalty decision that also saw captain Simon Cooper red carded.

City hit a rocky (by their standards) patch of form, drawing four of the next seven before Hanworth Villa visited Spectrum in the league cup. Kevin Rayner decided to blood some fringe players into the side and it paid dividends – Guildford seeing off this year’s FA Cup giant-killers to progress to the next round. Last year’s title rivals Chertsey Town edged a nine goal thriller in the Surrey Senior Cup, with Guildford the masters of their own undoing by missing two penalties. City then fought back from two goals down to pick up a valuable point at home to Windsor in the first meeting between the two sides.

However, the first league defeat of the season followed and to an unlikely source. Perennial relegation battlers Colliers Wood United produced an impressive display to bring City down a peg or two, winning 4-2. Spectrum hosted its first ever Friday night match – one of seven 100+ attendances this season – and beat Badshot Lea to return to the top of the league.

Guildford City’s excellent run in the FA Vase last season meant they could wait until November before joining the competition this year. They fell, however, in that first game away at Sussex County League side Lancing to a hotly disputed late winner. The side recovered to beat Wembley on penalties in the league cup before embarking on an incredible run of form.

In the 18 games between 26th November and 13th March City dropped points just twice, a draw against lowly Mole Valley SCR and a home defeat by Wembley.  Impressive displays against Horley Town, Sandhurst Town and Badshot Lea were the pick of the bunch – along with a season best home crowd against Ash United in February.

Egham Town ran out deserved winners at Spectrum in March to add some spice back to the title race. City recovered with two wins to ensure they could travel to face Guernsey in the league cup semi-final knowing that the championship was well and truly in their hands.

In front of a crowd of nearly 1,800 in the Channel Islands, City raced into a two goal lead and could have extended it further but for a fortunate goal-line clearance. Guernsey fought back to level in the dying minutes and eventually went through in extra time.

A fine performance at Dorking all but the sealed the league title but it was made official on 14th April when Raynes Park Vale were defeated 4-2. That meant that the following week’s trip to runners-up Windsor had nothing riding on it, and City slipped to a 2-1 loss despite taking an early lead.

The final match of the season saw the trophy presented in front of 152 supporters, but Molesey were in no mood to relax and claimed a deserved 5-2 victory to signal City’s worst run of league form for over a year. Luckily it didn’t make any difference, with City crowned champions for the second successive season and looking forward to taking their place at the next level of English football.