Tooting Bec (1) 2, Guildford City (3) 3
by Barry Underwood
What a thriller of a cup-tie this match was for the neutrals. For the more committed present there were highs and lows, and for City fans especially nerves in the closing minutes. The City line-up was missing Devon Gordon (dislocated shoulder) and Jordan Cavender (broken ankle) with injuries sustained in the seven days leading up to the game. Additionally, Greg Hayden suffered an injury during the warm up and withdrew from the starting line-up just minutes before kick-off. Regardless of the absentees Guildford’s performance in the first period was excellent and included three goals of the highest order.
It was Tooting who unleashed the first shot on goal on seven minutes, followed three minutes later by a Theo Woodhouse effort that was saved well for a corner. Guildford had made a bright start and on 20 minutes they got themselves on the scoresheet. A clearing header went straight to Theo Woodhouse who took a touch to settle himself before rifling an effort into the roof of net for his first goal for the club. The goal clearly gave extra impetus to the visitors. Dan Stewart drilled a cross right across the danger area without a touch, but two minutes later City did score their second. Eli Ogunseye raced down the right flank and crossed to Andre Smith who fired a low effort inside the far post. Just minutes later Eli Ogunseye again raced clear down the right. Upon entering the box, he cut past a defender and shot low into the far corner. Guildford almost immediately came close to a fourth. Athan Smith-Joseph collected a loose ball and with a short back-lift curled a 25-yard effort against the crossbar. On 37 minutes the visitors gifted Tooting a route back into the match. Clearly not considering the percentages Guildford played a short free kick deep in their own half. Possession was lost leading to a shot on City’s goal. Sadly, Zack Basey couldn’t hold the ball and Ross Broadway had the simple task of tapping home. Predictably Tooting were lifted, and several times came close in the late stages of the half.
In true cup-tie fashion a rejuvenated Tooting side took the game to City after the break and twice came close to reducing the deficit further. Guildford still looked good going forward. A strong run and then cross from Isy Nzelo zipped across the box, and Smith-Joseph cut through a gap and saw Machacek in the home goal save well. A superb pass put Dan Stewart through on goal. As he rounded Machacek a defender got back to block. The ball ran loose to Eli Ogunseye whose effort from an angle was blocked on the line. Zack Basey saved well after a long ball forward, but on 72 minutes Tooting did net their second goal. The ball ricocheted around the box before falling to Sam Johnson who found the back of the net. Seven minutes later Tooting should have equalised when a close-range effort from a low cross was smashed against the underside of the bar and cleared. City to their credit came back strongly in the remaining minutes and should have put the game to bed. After a great touch Cyril Ocansey raced towards goal and torn between shot or cross in the end did neither as the ball was intercepted and cleared. Twice in the same minute Eli Ogunseye and Dan Stewart had one on one’s with the keeper but failed to convert, and as the game entered stoppage time Cyril Ocansey had a tap-in chance but inexplicably he took a touch and the opportunity had gone begging. Referee Le Houezec played eight extra minutes at the end and Sweeney nerves were jangling. But victory was confirmed and for the first time since 2010-11 Guildford have reached the second round of the FA Vase.
Team: Zack Basey, Sean Mason, Isy Nzelo, David Burton (Nemo Adams 90), Luke Beale, Jimmy Odagi, Eli Ogunseye, Theo Woodhouse, Andre Smith (Jamie Higgins 63), Dan Stewart, Athan Smith-Joseph (Cyril Ocansey 71). Unused subs: Jeff Twumasi, Mike Coppinger, Kieran Williams.
Referee: Fabian le Houezec