By Barry Underwood
After a quite excellent second half performance Guildford City will feel highly aggrieved that their interest in this seasons Surrey Senior Cup competition has ceased. South Park are reigning CCL champions and after a good start to their life at step 4 are sitting comfortably in the higher echelons of the table. The remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo made for a windy and distinctly chilly evening, but those brave enough to face the challenging conditions witnessed a fine Guildford City display. Playing far beyond the level of recent league form City, resplendent in their new away kit, looked composed in possession, and organised at the back. Bruce McPhail in a central midfield role was a revelation and his performance was probably his best yet in a Guildford City shirt; his tremendous fitness allowing him to fill the midfield dynamo role of non-stop harrying and closing down.
It was however the home side that took the lead somewhat against the run of play. Jack Watts was the player in the right place to slide the ball home from a low right wing cross after 15 minutes. The visitor’s did have a large slice of good fortune shortly after the goal. After a tussle for a loose ball Stefan Joseph appeared to kick out at an opponent but fortunately for City the referee brandished just a yellow card. As the game opened out Daniel Guscott’s half volley for South Park was deflected wide after a set piece, followed minutes later by a fine interchange of passes by City that saw Stefan Joseph curl an effort just over the crossbar. On the half hour South Park had two golden opportunities to increase their lead. Jack Higgins broke free and shot wide, and then Joe Jackson lobbed an effort over Antony Hall, but also over the crossbar. As the first half advanced toward the interval Guildford started to apply pressure. Stef Joseph drove the ball across the six yard box but there was nobody on hand to convert. Minutes later South Park’s veteran keeper James Wastell emerged with credit, twice saving efforts at short range in a prolonged goalmouth scramble.
South Park somewhat fortuitously took a two goal lead shortly after the restart. John Symons tracking back in his own penalty area was harshly adjudged to have brought down Joe Jackson, and David Smith stepped up to score from the spot. Aggrieved by the decision City streamed forward in search of compensation. On 55 minutes a delicate chip from debutant Tommy Degiorgio found Stef Joseph on the edge of his box and his powerful effort was blocked at full stretch. On the hour City should have got themselves on the scoreboard. Junior Alade broke free and with the choice of shooting or going round the keeper, he shot against Wastell’s legs and the rebound flew back up off Alade and over the crossbar. City were dominating possession and creating a succession of chances. Jordan Phillip’s effort on the turn was blocked in the box and on 66 minutes Carlton Murray-Price was brought down as he ran across the box but the official saw no contact and waved play on!
The introduction of Navid Zandi from the bench sparked Guildford’s performance further as they tried to find a way through. City’s twin strikers Joseph and Murray-Price both had further chances. Murray-Price’s especially going wide when he probably should have scored. Sam Spencer’s free-kick on 75 minutes was saved by the diving Wastell, and a minute later, in an incredible goalmouth flurry, both Stef Joseph and Carlton Murray-Price saw efforts cleared off the line. Sam Spencer was later frustrated when the ball was taken off his toe by a fellow City player just as he was about to unleash a cannonball of an effort from the edge of the box and supporters began to realise that this was not going to be Guildford’s evening. On 84 minutes James Wastell, in conjunction with a defender on the line, somehow managed to keep Stef Joseph’s deflected effort out, but on 87 minutes City finally scored to reinvigorate their impetus; Carlton Murray-Price found space on the edge of the box to fire powerfully home. It was near constant pressure but somehow South Park’s heroic defenders held out and they now gone on to face Sutton United in the next round.
Team: Antony Hall, Elvis Defreitas, Tommy Degiorgio (George Baker 84), Jordan Phillips, Ray Guilford, John Symons (John Barrow 67), Junior Alade (Navid Zandi 67), Sam Spencer, Carlton Murray-Price, Stefan Joseph, Bruce McPhail.
Referee: J. Creswick