Godalming Town kept up their recent unbeaten record against rivals Guildford City as a second half Darren Wheeler goal saw the Gs progress to the 3rd round of the Surrey Senior Cup in front of a bumper Wey Court derby-day crowd.
Since City’s reformation in 1996 Godalming have lost just once to their biggest rivals, back in 2005, and some felt a resurgent Guildford under new, local manager Dean Thomas had their best shot at ending that run against an out-of-form Gs side. However, the hosts were always on top in a tie low on chances and did enough to get their name in the hat for the next round.
The visitors were without striker Matt Anton, prolific at step 8 Godalming & Farncombe Athletic before following his old manager to City in September, and recently courted by Gs boss Andy Hunt, but they went close after just 4 minutes when former Chelsea trainee Adam Nditi bent a free kick just wide. Johnny Gray was playing a more advanced role in holding midfield as Nick Hutchings returned to his place at full-back, and the former shot over before City ‘keeper Liam Beach smothered a Wheeler free-kick after an initial spill.
Gray saw another effort fizz off target before, in the 34th minute, the hosts created the best opening of the half when Louis Hutton played a short free-kick to Wheeler who skinned Tom Booth before crossing to George Frith, and his knockdown found Tom Willment, but his effort rebounded back off the post.
The tie seemed to be lacking that bit of quality, particularly in the final third, with neither side looking particularly penetrative. However, a moment of class from Adam Cornell just 4 minutes after the break presented a golden chance for Wheeler, and the winger wasn’t about to waste such an opportunity. Chris Wales played the ball forward and Cornell did superbly to turn, leaving Bradley Pegg for dead, and he rolled the ball across the 6-yard box where Wheeler was on hand to side foot home in front of the Shed End, his 8th goal of an already productive season for him.
The lead should have been doubled on the hour mark, and this time Cornell on the score sheet, as Sealand international Booth played a back pass too short and the striker was onto it in a flash. His first, placed effort hit the post and came back to him for a second attempt, and he opted for power, but the shot flew well over Beach’s bar.
As the tie wore on the visitors began to probe slightly more, and former Gs midfielder Andy Ottley forced Richard Ossai into his first meaningful save of the night with 16 minutes to go, his 25-yard shot well stopped by the Gs number one. Guildford’s golden chance to take the tie to penalties came in stoppage time when a free-kick fell to substitute Josh Everand, who did well to create the space, but Ossai was on hand to thwart him from close range.
Certainly not a classic, but the Gs will be pleased to progress in a cup competition, and make it back to back wins at Wey Court. Next up is a visit from unbeaten AFC Rushden & Diamonds on Saturday before Andy Hunts side visit Egham Town in the League Cup.
Goals: Wheeler 48’
XI: Ossai; Wales, Hutchings, Willment, Musgrove; Frith, Wheeler, Gray (Laidler 66’), Hutton; Cornell (Lewington 78’), Purdy.
Not used: Edwards, Lloyd, McGarry