City extended their unbeaten run to five matches at Byfield Road on Saturday, with a battling performance at strugglers Woodford United. After having three inches of snow on the pitch three days prior to the game, the pitch was extremely heavy, making fluent football a difficult proposition. Credit though to Woodford, still looking for their first point of the season, who competed well, especially in the first period, and will have come away from the game knowing that their young side had pushed an in-form Guildford side hard.
With the Sweeney mini-bus, with two players on board, suffering a puncture en-route, a late reshuffle to the starting line-up was required; Scott Todd dropping to the bench, and Junior Kaffo starting up-front. In fact it was Kaffo who created City’s first real chance when his low cross to the near post was met by Sean Rivers, who wasn’t quite able to convert a difficult chance. Minutes later the same two players combined to set up Jaydon Gibbs, whose mishit shot sailed wide. City’s best chance of the half came on 19 minutes, when Kaffo again fed Dan Moody, whose fierce shot from 15 yards was brilliantly saved by the flying Daniel Frayne. An energetic Will Heavey entered the fray for the injured Jack Guilford, and his enthusiasm lifted the game. Indeed after a scintillating Gibbs run on the left, it was Heavey who got up to attempt a volleyed finish that sailed harmlessly wide. Jaydon Gibbs himself broke free on 35 minutes, but with the ball difficult to control on the surface, a defender was able to scramble back to clear at full-stretch. Then minutes before the interval Woodford carved out two scoring opportunities. Firstly Tom Penson made a brilliant last ditch tackle to thwart the first opportunity, and then secondly a moment of indecision in defence saw Ed Kostuik blaze well over from just five yards.
After Kev Rayners half-time “encouragement” , City came out showing more composure in the second period, and one always felt it was just a matter of time before all of the possession resulted in a deserved goal. Sweeney fans did wonder though if this was to be Woodford’s day, when minutes into the half Sean River’s managed to turn the ball over an open goal, following Jamie Thoroughgood’s knock-down. Jamie Thoroughgood, enjoying a fine game, made a good run forward before setting Will Heavey free on the left, but his low cross into the box eluded the on-rushing forwards. On 56 minutes deadlock was broken after a similar run from the back by Simon Cooper. His fine pass found Jaydon Gibbs, who chipped delicately to the far post where Ben Rayner rose to head home. Gibbs himself had a chance a little later but his placed shot was well blocked. On 68 minutes any lingering doubts were eased, when Rayner’s pass picked out Dan Moody, who placed the ball past the home keeper. Almost immediately Moody could, and should, have scored again when after rounding the keeper he wanted time to make sure, and the chance was lost. With non-stop pressure on the home goal it was Ben Rayner who notched the third, when after latching onto a loose ball on the edge of the box, he shot right-footed into the net. Will Heavey and Rayner both had opportunities in the final moments, as did the impressive Scott Todd, who following a jinking run, saw his low shot saved by the keeper’s feet.
Antony Hall, Tom Penson, Ben Rayner, Simon Cooper, Jamie Thoroughgood, Dammy Bada, Dan Moody, Jack Guilford (Will Heavey 25), Sean Rivers (Scott Todd 55), Junior Kaffo (Bruce McPhail 75), Jaydon Gibbs.
Unused substitutes: Luke Bradnick, Bobby Cain.
Referee: Geoff Russell