A 90th-minute penalty from Darren Wheeler gave Godalming Town all three points as the Gs defeated 4th-place Potters Bar Town in a thrilling game at Wey Court.
After a fortnight with no competitive action Andy Hunt, who became a father last week, made a couple of changes with Liam Roberts and Will Hutton returning to the starting eleven.
It took the Gs just 17 seconds to register a shot on target with Jack Mazzone shooting into the hands of Mike Underwood.
The early intent was rewarded in the 5th minute when Potters Bar captain Ben Bowditch, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, slipped and completely missed Will Hutton’s cross allowing Wheeler to take the ball on and tuck it in at the near post.
The visitors had lost their previous two matches but responded well to going behind with Chris Doyle dragging a long-range effort wide in the 8th minute.
Shortly after Wheeler tried an audacious first-time shot after Underwood hurried a clearance but the ball dropped wide of the target.
James Ewington then volleyed over from an angle before, in the 16th minute, Mazzone had a goal ruled out for a foul on Underwood.
The Scholars began to work their way into the match as the half went on and Ewington forced a good save from Richard Ossai before, in the 25th minute, Josh Hutchinson somehow fired Laurence Rispoli’s cross over the bar from inside the 6-yard box.
That chance was a let off for the Gs and Ossai was called into action again as he turned away another Rispoli cross in the 33rd minute, with Doyle volleying the eventual rebound over.
Godalming began to press higher up the pitch but a mistake in the 39th minute nearly cost them dear. Chris Musgrove slipped and Hutchinson was through with only Ossai to beat but the goalkeeper made a fine save to deny the striker his 8th goal of the season.
The Gs ended the opening 45 strongly with Mazzone testing Underwood again before Wheeler fired a long-range free kick over the bar with the last kick of the half.
Not for the first time this season Godalming were caught napping at the start of the second period and Potters Bar were level after 47 minutes when Lamar Simpson cut in from the right and curled a fine left-footed finish past Ossai and into the far corner.
Mazzone and Will Hutton had shots blocked in the 56th minute but the visitors had a glorious opportunity to take the lead shortly after when the Scholars leading scorer Hutchinson was presented with his third clear opening of the game.
Having been played in by Doyle the former Cheshunt man tried to lob the ball over Ossai but the stopper made another fine save to turn the effort away.
That moment seemed to change the game and suddenly Godalming were brighter, and in the 69th minute they took the lead for the second time.
Nick Hutchings released Wheeler down the left and the winger left Jack Friend for dead before crossing low towards Mazzone. The striker’s initial shot was blocked by Underwood but he headed home the rebound whilst falling backwards to notch his 8th goal of the campaign.
Straight after the goal the pendulum swung again as Potters Bar began to dominate and Simpson went down under a Musgrove challenge inside the box before, in the 75th minute, an unmarked Ewington headed a Matt Clifford cross over.
Ewington was not to be denied however and the striker, who scored 2 goals in 3 games whilst on loan at former club Harpenden Town earlier this season, took advantage of a Musgrove slip and coolly finished beyond Ossai after Doyle’s pin-point through ball.
At that point Potters Bar looked the more likely to grab a winner but both sides continued to create great opportunities in what had become a fantastic match.
Ossai saved from Doyle in the 82nd minute and Musgrove then lifted an effort narrowly over the bar after Underwood had spilt a Wheeler corner. Hutchinson had another chance with 3 minutes to play but again Ossai was equal to it, and in the 89th minute a Gs break resulted in a dramatic opportunity to win the game.
Charlie Hutton played in substitute Pietro Palladino down the right but the striker’s cross was too deep and the ball seemed to be trickling out of play for a throw in. Wheeler and Rispoli chased after the ball and having won possession the Godalming player felt he was fouled before carrying on towards the box, where he was again impeded by the right back, and Greg Read pointed to the spot.
Despite numerous mind games from the visitors an unfazed Wheeler confidently smashed the penalty into the bottom corner to the delight of the home crowd. Potters Bar didn’t have time to respond and Godalming came out victorious, lifting themselves to 6th, one place and one point off the last playoff place.
Andy Hunt’s men are in league action again on Tuesday night when they travel to Middlesex to face mid-table Northwood at 19:45. The following Saturday the Gs are on the road again as they make a second visit to Leighton Buzzard this season, this time meeting Leighton Town at 15:00.
Scorers: Wheeler 5′, 90+1′ (p), Mazzone 69′; Simpson 47′, Ewington 77′
Godalming Town XI: Ossai; C. Hutton, Hutchings, Musgrove, Lloyd; Brown, Simeone; W. Hutton (Ryan 66′); Roberts, Mazzone (Palladino 79′), Wheeler.
Subs not used: Oldland, Hardy.