Godalming 1 Balham 1
This was the second game in the CCL and after two good performances and wins against Westfield in the Extra Preliminary Round of the FA Cup and Redhill on Saturday the G’s fans must have been looking forward to this one. Unfortunately, it was something of a disappointment. The first half saw the G’s rather off the pace and although the same side that started at Redhill and performed so well against them lined up against Balham, they could not match anything like the performance.
There is always the referee to be considered. To be honest I lost count of the yellow cards issued and did not see Ben Cotton being given his second yellow. I never like to criticise referees, but overall, I do not think that the ref had a good game and it was not by any means a dirty encounter. He seemed to issue cards in the first half almost exclusively to the G’s, but ignored some of the indiscretions of the visitors. But I am biased and he and his assistants were the only people paid to be impartial. But it does not help your case to scream abuse at the man in black to his face. Interesting to think what the assessor might have made of it.
Anyway, having said all that the visitors started well and after about fifteen minutes they attacked, towards the road end, down their left and delivered a fine low cross for a close-range tap in to open the scoring.
Gs started to dig in and get back into the game, but without a lot of success. Ben Cotton was yellow carded on about 25 minutes as was Joe Smith and then Steve Betancourt minutes later. Then towards the end of the half Hakim made a good run towards the visitor’s line when he was brought down by the Balham No3, who was booked. In blowing for this the referee quite clearly pointed towards the penalty spot, but strangely then had the kick taken from wide of the area. Balham then mounted another attack down their left and the G’s were lucky to avoid going further behind. Ben Cotton was apparently sent off at the end of the first half after a second yellow card.
So the G’s went in at half time one nil down and with only ten men on the pitch.
Joe Smith did not return for the second half and the impressive Piers Oldland came on to take up position in the midfield.
Minutes into the second half the G’s won a free kick between the visitor’s penalty area and the centre line. Much organisation of the attacking forwards ensued amid shouts of “Get in there Lloydy” while we were thinking, this is in ideal Darren Wheeler territory. He hit the ball as sweetly as he has ever done and it rifled into the top corner, rolling back the years (NM) and reminding us of some of the other outstanding goals he has bagged at Wey Court, which unfortunately are only recorded in our memories. So only ten men, but back to 1-1.
Then a penalty was awarded against Aaron Bufton for a brave save he made going down at the feet of the onrushing Balham forward who had latched onto a long through ball that was deflected through the G’s defence. But the Godalming keeper was up for it and made a tremendous save diving to his left pushing the ball wide onto the post and round, much to the delight of the home team and supporters.
Shortly after any thoughts that perhaps the ten men could hang on to get a point were dented again when Steve Betancourt also received a second yellow card and was ordered off having had a tremendous game for the home team. So now the G’s were down to 9 men.
The ref then decided it was time to book a few more players on the Balham side and dealt out a couple of cards to their number eleven and number four.
Ashley Lloyd seemed to aggravate his ankle injury and was replaced by the impressive Isy Nzelo who fitted in straight away. Danny Elgar was replaced by Luke Elgar.
But the 9 man G’s kept attacking, kept the ball better, almost managed to score the winner and fought a great second half to hang on to a share of the points. From a pretty poor first half, they showed great spirit and determination in defending.
They will need to be switched on and ready to go against Farnham on Saturday. This is another big game and any previous results from Farnham are immaterial, we need to win on Saturday.
Man of the Match for the G’s for me has to be Aaron Bufton although it was great to see Darren putting in a few miles as well.
In the end the Balham No 11 was also dismissed to spend the last ten minutes in the stand.
A refreshed and rejuvenated Michael returns to the UK to give a rundown of the stats. His data has been processed, checked and rechecked, run though the sausage machine, analysed and here are the results.
attempts 5 9
on target 3 6
corners 3 4
fouls 14 22
yellows 5 3
reds 2 1
poss (%) 1st 45 55
poss (%) 2nd 57 43