Staines Town (1) 2, Guildford City (0) 1
by Barry Underwood
Guildford City gave their all at Wheatsheaf Lane but exited the FA Cup courtesy of an excellent 82nd minute winner from Staines Arif Hattabi. In front of a large and vocal travelling support City performed well and having equalised with 20 minutes remaining it looked that they could go on to win the cup-tie. But it wasn’t to be when Hattabi’s late moment of brilliance gave the home side a pass into the hat for the next round.
With three starting defenders still missing with injury Benn Watson was given his debut at left back, and midfielder Theo Woodhouse again dropped into the backline. Watson was given a tough time by impressive Staines winger Luke Robinson, and Robinson was involved in the move that saw Tayo Oyebola brought down in the box for a sixth minute penalty. Up stepped De’Jeaune Taylor-Crossdale who netted comfortably from the spot. This clearly wasn’t the start the visitors wanted. But having settled Guildford played some good passing football and twice Athan Smith-Joseph had shooting chances down the right; the second of which fizzed just past the post. Former Staines player Cyril Ocansey saw a shot blocked on the half-hour, whilst at the other end Staines fashioned a first-time effort over the bar. Mike Coppinger also saw a shot take a wicked deflection which just for a second fooled the fans that it was entering the net. As the break approached there were chances at either end, the best of which fell to Staines in stoppage time when an Odagi back-pass was intercepted by Taylor-Crossdale. The Staines striker’s effort beat Devon Gordon and slowly rolled goalward. City fans were perfectly placed to follow the ball’s journey. It seemed 50:50 between goal or miss. In the event the ball struck the post and Gordon was able to safely gather it up.
With substitute Isy Nzelo entering the fray after the break City certainly looked more secure, although twice Staines saw headers narrowly go wide. For City Andre Smith’s long throws into the box caused problems and from one throw Jamie Higgins low shot on the turn narrowly missed the target. Guildford were far from dead and buried and twice Andre Smith fired challenging crosses into the danger area. The second cross led to a corner in the 71st minute from which City scored their equalising goal. The corner was cleared to the edge off the box where Nathaniel Williams fired it back with venom forcing Joe Williams into a flying save. Dave Burton’s follow up was blocked on the line, but at the third attempt it was Andre Smith who shot home from close range. Credit to the home side who could have buckled having led for so long. Devon Gordon saved well from a header and the game was up for grabs. But it was a brilliant moment from Hattabi who curled a shot into the corner from outside the box that won the game. Late on an excellent Jamie Higgins run set up a shooting chance for Cyril Ocansey. His effort though was too high and sadly Guildford’s FA Cup run was over.
Team: Devon Gordon, Jimmy Odagi, Benn Watson (Isy Nzelo 46), Craig Lewington (David Burton 65), Luke Beale, Theo Woodhouse, Mike Coppinger (Nathaniel Williams 69), Jamie Higgins, Andre Smith, Cyril Ocansey, Athan Smith-Joseph. Unused subs: Josh Everard, Kieran Williams, Roberto Dos Santos Saraiva, Zack Basey.
Referee: Tom Fell
Attendance – 151