Sheerwater (3) 3, Guildford City (2) 2
by Barry Underwood
Guildford City’s interest in the end of season Fripp-Smith Trophy came to an end at Kingfield on Mayday bank holiday. Going into the match City needed a point to earn a place in the competition’s knockout stages. An early goal from Mike Coppinger looked as if it would set Guildford on their way. But in the end, it wasn’t to be as a committed Sheerwater side saw the game out themselves to advance to the final stages.
It was the home side who opened brightly, and with the wind at their backs they had City on the defensive. But despite this it was City on six minutes who took the lead against the run of play. Smart work on the right between Athan Smith-Joseph and Max Oldham saw a deep cross headed in by Mike Coppinger. Within minutes the same player cut in and had a good effort blocked. However, it wasn’t altogether surprising when Sheerwater drew level on 14 minutes. Sheerwater had looked threatening through their corners, with Luke Taylor’s delivery top-notch. Ashley Hutchinson met Taylor’s cross at the front post and headed it beyond the City keeper Matte Pierson. Then in the 26th minute, another corner gave the City defence trouble, all be it in contentious fashion with the award of the corner. Pierson scrambled Taylor’s delivery onto the crossbar and David Burton’s clearance fell to ex-City striker Kieran Campbell who rifled the ball home from 20 yards. The home side went further ahead from the penalty spot in the 34th minute. Again, this was a highly contentious decision as it seemed to everyone present that there was a clean challenge. But then if a defender leaves his feet in the box your heart is automatically in your mouth. The penalty was successfully converted by Kieran Campbell. On the half-hour both sides exchanged shots that went just wide, and the home winger Leon Dadey looked especially dangerous. Just as the interval approached Guildford pulled a goal back. Coppinger’s smart pass gave Max Oldham the chance to shoot home.
After five first half goals the second half was a different affair with limited clear chances at either end. Early on Josh Everard and Mike Coppinger both shot wide from half chances, after which the game became a scrappy, and sometimes ill-tempered, contest. With 12 minutes remaining Athan Smith-Joseph was adjudged to be narrowly offside, whilst a minute later at the other end Matte Pierson saved well with his legs. Pierson again saved spectacularly as the game entered stoppage time. Credit to Sheerwater for a determined performance, and for their game management late in the game that kept City at bay.
Team: Matte Pierson, Anselme Daho (Nathan Laleye 63), Isy Nzelo, Josh Everard (Harry Nicholas 76), David Burton, Prince Mbengui, Harvey Kirk (Ruairi Byrne 38), Max Oldham, Athan Smith-Joseph, Mike Coppinger, Fred Hill (Stephane Zolo 82). Unused sub: Patrick Allan
Referee: Fernando Costache
MATCHDAY PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL BURGMAN