A controversial red card for Will Hutton on the stroke of half time made an already uphill task a bridge too far for Godalming Town as fourth-place Hanwell Town inflicted the Gs 6th defeat in their last 9 games as they ran out 2-0 winners at Reynolds Field.
The midfielders’ instant dismissal for a flailing kick on Geordies goalkeeper Alex Tokarczyk came when the Gs had more than held their own with the score at 0-0. However an early second-half goal from Bill Healey put the hosts ahead and they wrapped up the points, which never looked in doubt after the first strike, when substitute Eoin Casey scored with 3 minutes to play.
Ashley Lloyd returned to central defence after a spell out following a knock picked up against North Greenford United and Steve Brown was also recalled to the starting eleven with Adam Cornell dropping to the bench.
The hosts have been enjoying a good campaign following promotion last season and they came close after only two minutes with Richard Ossai doing well to tip the lively Billy Adock’s long-range effort over the bar.
Lewis Ochoa sent a free kick narrowly over before the Gs began to create chances of their own. Darren Wheeler beat Tom Kennedy with ease before dinking a shot towards the far post but his effort dipped just wide. In the 26th minute the winger’s free kick was cleared only as far as George Frith, but his shot deflected past the post.
A minute later and Godalming, who were on top at this stage, came close to taking the lead. Nick Hutchings found Wheeler who put an excellent ball across the box and Jack Mazzone stretched but couldn’t quite connect, with the slightest touch almost certainly turning it home.
After the Gs pressure the hosts began to see more of the ball but their front line was being well marshalled by Lloyd and Tom Willment. They did however nearly break the deadlock in the 38th minute as Michael Buckley’s 25-yard shot crashed back down off the bar before Healey was flagged for offside. Chris Wales produced a superb tackled to deny Ochoa before, with just a minute till the break, Neil Morrison produced the card that sent Godalming down to 10 men.
Hutton did well to wriggle past 2 Hanwell defenders but the ball overran into the arms of Tokarczyk. As the keeper smothered the ball the Gs player’s boot made the slightest connection with the former Farnborough stoppers head and Morrison, who initially made no decision, made the call after the linesman flagged under vociferous pressure from the home dugout. The challenge didn’t need to be made but the contact was minimal and the straight red could be deemed harsh, and the visitors went into the break reeling.
Any hope Godalming had of claiming only a second win in 10 matches was all but expunged when, five minutes after half time, the hosts took the lead. Ochoa sent a ball across the box and Healey turned before firing his 13th goal of the season, and second against the Gs, in off the post.
Hanwell smelt blood and they began to pepper Ossai’s goal. Conner Duffy shot over before the Godalming keeper made a great save from Adock in the 56th minute. Wales was next to prevent a second goal as he produced an excellent goal-line clearance to deny Duffy.
Andy Hunt brought off captain Antonio Simeone in the 59th minute as Charlie Hutton made his return after a long-spell out, with Wales moving into midfield. The hosts were very much in control with Godalming mostly camped in their own half. Duffy volleyed wide before his brother Oliver shot over in the 70th minute though Wales’ long-rage effort with 12 minutes to play dropped not far over the bar.
Ossai made a typically brilliant, double stop from Ochoa with 10 minutes to play and substitute Casey glanced a header inches wide when he should really have scored. The second goal did eventually come, bearing similarities with the first, this time Adock providing the ball across with Casey on hand at the near post to turn home his third goal since arriving from Oxhey Jets earlier this season.
A fiery game came to an end shortly after with Godalming looking to pick up a first home win in over two months against Egham Town, who sit one place and one point above the Gs in 9th, on Boxing Day. Andy Hunt’s men then travel to Uxbridge on New Year’s Day.
Scorers: Healey 50’, Casey 87’
Godalming Town XI: Ossai; Wales, Hutchings, Lloyd, Willment; Simeone (C. Hutton 59’), Brown; W. Hutton; Frith, Mazzone (Cornell 46’), Wheeler (Roberts 71’).
Substitutes not used: Musgrove.
Attendance: 93 (22 away).