Hereford 8-0 Godalming
This was a dream draw for the G’s, being picked out of the hat against the ex-national second division side at their home, which is a real football ground, concrete terraces and seating above on the upper tiers.
The sun was shining and although the Google search suggested it could take around four hours to make the trip we cruised through towards the Welsh boarder in less than three. And didn’t it look gorgeous coming through the Forest of Dean and the Severn Valley.
So, with realistic expectations that the G’s would need their hosts to field a second-string side and our lads to play out of their skins, plus something of a divine intervention if they were to be able to put up much of a contest against a team in the top half of a League, two levels above the G’s, but the dream remained.
However, in a very strange twist of fate the G’s were struck by intervention of a different kind, from the ref, who initially saw nothing wrong with Aaron Bufton making a typically brave block with his legs on the edge of his area (without coming into contact with an advancing home forward), when the ball ricocheted off of him and bounced back towards the G’s keeper off Lewis Taylor a few metres away. Bufton then played the ball quickly out by rolling it along the ground.
The linesman in front of the Main Stand under pressure from the crowd, after the event, raised his flag and the ref back-peddled towards him.
After deliberation Aaron was shown a straight red card to the astonishment of everyone watching. The only one who knows why Aaron was dismissed is the referee and I understand the Club are appealing the red card, as there is video evidence.
So, the dream became a nightmare and the sinking feeling that we were going to be down to ten men virtually from the off, sank in.
The question then was who would put their hand up to go in goal, with no recognised second keeper in the squad. Captain Lewis Taylor took the responsibility himself and what followed was incredible. We were always going to be fighting with backs to the wall however many players we had on the pitch, but this was going to make it even worse.
No-one could have expected the fine display of goalkeeping that he delivered, while being in front of the hundreds of home fans terraces for the first half. The score shows 8 – 0, but it really could have been many more, but for the brave heroics of Captain Lewis. Michael’s stats will show that the home team were totally dominant throughout the game and somehow conspired to hit around 30 attempts in the first half.
It was a wonder that the score at half time was only 3 – 0, but the home crowd in the main stand were good enough to acknowledge the fighting performance of the whole G’s squad as they left the pitch at the break.
Lewis was to go one better in the second half, where, apart from numerous saves in open play, he made a tremendous save from a penalty awarded to the home team.
Lewis had made repeated saves with dives and blocks that any keeper would have been proud of and we should all be extremely proud of him and his team, who, despite the odds, battled away until the final whistle. There was no time for their heads to drop, they just had to keep chasing as their hosts played some crisp passes and ground them down. The whole squad did their bit.
Despite the score line let’s hope that they enjoyed the experience on the day and the chance to play in a big ground, against a good side and with a crowd of 1800 crammed in largely on two sides.
Once again at the end of the game the home crowd in the Main Stand stood to applaud our team as they left and particularly Lewis Taylor. Hats off to the home supporters.
The starting line-up was Aaron Bufton, Isy Nzelo right back, Lewis Taylor left back, with Steve Betancourt and Ashley Lloyd as the centre backs. Midfield was Scott Elgar, Ben Cotton and Piers Oldland with Darren Wheeler out wide on the left, Shawn Lyle on the right and Hakim Griffiths in the middle. On the bench were Joe Smith (on for Hakim in the second half), Kieran Wright came on for Lloydie, Tre Trowers and Danny Elgar.
Michael (Stato) Statistics: –
Attempts 48 2
On target 19 1
Corners 8 0
Fouls 16 9
Yellows 1 3
Reds 0 1
Poss% 1st 80 20
Poss% 2nd 75 25