A below-par Godalming Town missed the opportunity to move second as bottom club Beaconsfield SYCOB earned a deserved 1-1 draw at Holloways Park.
It was the third time the Gs had failed to overcome the Rams already this season and the loss of Darren Wheeler to two broken toes capped off a frustrating night for Andy Hunt’s men.
After the battling win over Bedworth on Saturday three changes were made, notably in goal where last season’s stopper Zaki Oualah played as Richard Ossai was resting a niggling injury. Ashley Lloyd was similarly rested, in his case a long-term groin problem, with Chris Wales and Chris Musgrove starting in central defence. In attack Liam Roberts came in for Marco Micaletto.
After a promising opening few minutes Godalming faded and in the 13th minute Oualah was forced into his first save, making a smart stop with his feet after Aaron Couch shot following a ricochet off Steve Brown.
Couch was making his debut having signed from Burnham over the weekend and the talented winger volleyed another effort narrowly over soon after. In the 21st minute he was allowed to run unchallenged for several yards before shooting straight at Oualah.
The Gs were giving the ball away cheaply with the hosts enjoying greater possession so it was much against the run of play when they took the lead, with an excellent goal, on the half-hour mark.
Jack Mazzone’s great lay off, evidence of his improved hold up play in recent weeks, allowed Will Hutton to pick out Wheeler with a pin-point, first time pass. The winger proceeded to dumbfound the Beaconsfield defence first beating Johnny Gray before drawing Sam Bunting off his line and rounding him. Alex Murray was the next Rams defender to be beaten before, with two players on the line, he stuck the ball into the corner.
The goal came at a cost, however, as Wheeler hobbled straight off after scoring. Later scans revealed the two broken little toes, likely to keep him out for a few weeks at least, and Godalming fans will be hoping for a swift recovery.
Micaletto came on in his place but the Gs were still struggling to create any openings and after Ashley Kelynack crossed for Couch Chris Musgrove had to be alert to produce a smart block. The last action of the half saw Lee Togwell volley over and Godalming went in a goal ahead at the break.
The hosts, hard-working but limited, had drawn the Gs into a direct affair but Tom Willment was winning everything in the air and they levelled the game in the 62nd minute when a seemingly harmless shot from Couch squirmed through Oualah and into the back of the net.
Godalming huffed and puffed but were struggling to put many passes together in the attacking third. Indeed, Togwell sent another volley over the bar with 20 minutes to play. In the 72nd minute a smart turn from Micaletto on the right made space for a cross and substitute Pietro Palladino did well to connect with the ball but he headed it wide.
That chance was Godalming’s best of the second half and with the host’s determination to get a point colliding with the Gs pure frustration the match became niggly, and eventually fizzled out without either side creating an opportunity to win it.
The FA Trophy first qualifying round means Godalming have a blank weekend before making a long midweek trip to face Rugby Town on Tuesday 4th November. Another difficult away day follows with a first-ever meeting with league leaders and title favourites Kettering Town on Saturday 8th in what could be a gripping, top of the table clash.
Scorers: Wheeler 30’; Couch 62’
Godalming Town XI: Ouloah; Brown, Hutchings, Musgrove, Wales; Simeone, Frith (Palladino 64’); Hutton; Wheeler (Micaletto 31’), Mazzone, Roberts.
Substitutes not used: Crossley, Lloyd, Ossai.
Attendance: 112 (38 away).