A thrilling FA Cup tie finally swung in Godalming’s favour on a night of goals, red cards and extra time at Wey Court.
After a delayed kick off an open first 45 ended with the Gs nicking a goal, courtesy of Darren Wheeler, on the stroke of half time. Romone Rose levelled shortly after the break before Cory King saw red for the visitors, who held on for extra time. The hosts re-took the lead, again via Wheeler, and ultimately held out to reach a 1st Qualifying Round tie at home to Kidlington.
With Lee Rushe and Louis Hutton unavailable Chris Wales and the returning George Frith came into the starting XI, and Graeme Purdy replaced Adam Cornell in attack. With the M3 closed the visitors arrived late, with kick off delayed to 20:15, though they had the first chances. The dangerous Rose was first denied by a superb Wales block from close range before a loose ball struck the same player, spinning wide in the 21st minute.
Jahson Downes curled over before Tom Willment thundered a header narrowly wide from a corner, and Frith and Wheeler tested Simon Grant from long range either side of the half hour mark. Both sides were looking lively and Purdy slide in a cross for Wheeler in the 33rd minute, but from close range Grant pulled off a smart save. Rose then shot wide before Godalming came closest to scoring – a rocket from Will Hutton bouncing off the woodwork and away.
With half time imminent the first goal came. Nathan Ashton lost the ball and Purdy seized upon it, before slipping in a pinpoint cross towards Wheeler in similar fashion to the chance 12 minutes earlier. This time the winger fired high into the net, putting the Gs ahead in the tie for the second time.
Supporters were still emerging from the clubhouse when the Blues levelled, Rose somehow finding space to skip straight through 3 Godalming players before slotting the ball beyond Richard Ossai into the corner. Ossai then had to make a fine double save, racing out to block at the feet of Downes before parrying the same players rebounded effort.
King was brought on for the visitors and offered an outlet with his pace, and he drilled wide from an angle in the 61st minute before Wheeler and Frith took turns to shoot past the post. In the 74th minute Downes tried his luck from far out, an audacious effort that looked set for goal, but as he turned to celebrate Ossai managed to tip the ball over the bar. Rose then struck the bar before Marlow had some of the wind taken out of their sails.
The impressive King had looked like he could have a big say on the tie but he saw red with 4 minutes to go, wildly sliding in with 2 feet on Will Hutton. Godalming went close to capitalising in normal time, Wheeler having 2 opportunities to nick it but failing to hit the target on both occasions.
The game went into extra time and it wasn’t long before Godalming’s numerical advantage was wiped out. Charlie Hutton caught Chris Ovenden as he ran past him, a second yellow, and he was dismissed by referee Tom Bishop. Substitute Adam Cornell then shot wide before the Gs were offered a chance to re-take the lead in the 102nd minute. Wheeler was tripped by Jamal Branker in the box and he dusted himself down before smashing the ball home, his 3rd goal of the tie.
With both sides tiring it was a nervy culmination of the match, and the hosts will no doubt be indebted to Ossai for making a spectacular save with 10 minutes of extra time to go. Downs found himself in on goal but the Gs keeper got his fingertips to the forwards shot, tipping it round the post and preserving the lead.
Andy Hunt’s men will now face Hellenic League side Kidlington on Saturday 12th in the next round. Before that, Beaconsfield SYCOB visit Wey Court this Saturday.
Scorers: Wheeler 45’, 104’ (p); Rose 48’
Godalming Town XI: Ossai; C. Hutton, Hutchings, Willment, Wales; Laidler, Frith, Wheeler; W. Hutton, Purdy (Cornell 78’), Roberts (Mazzone 59’).
Subs not used: Powell, Lunn.