Godalming Town were unlucky to leave Latimer Park without at least a point as league leaders Kettering Town ran out 2-1 winners with the Gs dropping out of the playoff places in the process.
A well-taken first-half goal from Elliot Sandy came against the run of play, and after Godalming made the better start to the second half they found themselves 2-0 down on 67 minutes when Brett Solkhon headed home a corner. Will Hutton’s low drive, with three minutes to play, wasn’t enough.
Several changes were made after the disappointing loss at Rugby with Chris Wales starting at right back ahead of Steve Brown, who wasn’t fully fit. In Antonio Simeone’s absence Ashley Lloyd was named captain, a mantle his performance merited. George Frith partnered George Short in the middle of the park with Jordan Page making his debut on the right wing. Adam Cornell started up front.
In front of a crowd of 535 Godalming had the first attempts of note. Page’s shot from long range was deflected in the 5th minute before Jamie McAlindon pushed a Jack Mazzone effort behind four minutes later.
From the corner that followed Godalming had two excellent chances, the first seeing McAlindon smartly deny Ashley Lloyd from close range. The ball then fell to Musgrove who drove it back in and Cornell, with McAlindon on the floor, shot over from just a couple of yards in front of the line.
It was a huge let off for the hosts who first tested Richard Ossai in the 23rd minute, Claudiu Hoban cutting in and firing straight at the Gs ‘keeper. 9 minutes later Dubi Ogbonna, scorer of 11 goals this season, shot over from the edge of the box.
The Gs were on top though and shortly after they created their best chance of the game. After Kettering cleared Hutton played a smart pass and Frith was in. He got to the ball before McAlindon and rounded him, but his shot was superbly cleared off the line by Jason Lee.
It was a big moment in the game. Godalming were having the better of the match on a difficult pitch but four minutes before half-time the hosts took the lead. Lee played a long ball to Sandy, who brought the ball down onto his chest well, before turning and volleying a fine individual goal into the far corner.
Despite the set-back and frustrating time of conceeding Andy Hunt’s men made a good start to the second half, Mazzone volleying over in the 50th minute. Godalming were pressing well in the final third with Hutton, Mazzone and Frith producing some neat passing.
With 57 minutes on the clock a good move resulted in Mazzone slipping in Nick Hutchings, whose cross was deflected behind for a corner. From Frith’s set piece Chris Musgrove leapt highest but his towering header crashed back off the crossbar, the visitors wondering what they had to do to score.
Shortly after Hutton and Mazzone combined to play in Page who was denied by a flying block from James Clifton. The Poppies broke swiftly and Andy Hall and Ogbonna exchanged passes before the latter was denied by Ossai.
Kettering began to exert some of their own pressure and Hoban’s cross-shot deflected off Musgrove and not far wide. The corner that followed hung deep to the far past where Solkhon, with nearly twelve seasons at the Poppies under his belt, beat Ossai to glance home the hosts second goal.
Godalming, aggrieved at finding themselves two down, responded immediately and McAlindon saved from Hutton. Kettering were very much a threat at the other end by this stage, however, and only heroics from Ossai denied them a third goal. Hall played a low ball across the six-yard box and Ogbonna, odds on to score, saw his effort acrobatically parried. The rebound bounced straight to Hoban who, better placed than Ogbonna, drew a scarcely believable save from Ossai.
The Gs stopper then made an easier save from Ogbonna before, with just three minutes to go, Godalming got a deserved goal that gave them a slim chance of getting a point. Hutchings cross was headed out by Tommy Hull, falling to Hutton whose first-time shot flew in from the edge of the box.
The visitors made a late rally but couldn’t create a clear-cut chance to level. Indeed Kettering had the last opportunity, Hoban crashing a free kick onto the bar. As the whistle blew the Gs knew they could have got a result, and it was a good performance against the league leaders, but a third game without a win sees them drop to 7th.
The next league match at home to North Greenford United isn’t for two weeks and Godalming’s Surrey Senior Cup campaign, a second round tie at home to Combined Counties Premier Division side Mole Valley SCR, gets underway on Tuesday night.
The following Wednesday Andy Hunt could potentially experiment with his squad as Egham Town, who leapfrogged the Gs in the league today after a 3-0 win against Daventry, visit Wey Court in the second round of the Red Insure Cup.
Scorers: Sandy 41’, Solkhon 67’; Hutton 87’
Godalming Town XI: Ossai; Wales, Hutchings, Musgrove, Lloyd; Short, Frith; Hutton; Page (Purdy 64’); Cornell, Mazzone (Palladino 79’).
Substitutes not used: Roberts, Brown
Attendance: 535 (38 away)