Report by Alan Burgess
Godalming (0) 1 v 0 (0) Worthing United – Southern Combination
We reached the last league game of the 2022-23 season and for the Gees it was something of a free hit. Tuesday’s results elsewhere confirmed our place in the Play-offs taking either 2nd or 3rd spot, and Thursday confirmed our opponents would be Wick. In between on Wednesday we secured a place in our second Cup Final of the season with that fine win over Dorking. With Wick holding a one-point advantage coming into Saturday all that the Gees could do to secure a home Play-off tie was to beat Worthing and hope Wick failed to beat Oakwood. Both games ended 1 – 0 and so it’s off to Wick next Saturday. A bumper crowd of 302 appeared at Weycourt for what is likely to be the last competitive home game of the season. A just reward for the teams’ efforts this season.
A full squad of 16 was named for this one: Alfie Mickley in goal, Captain Luke Beale partnering Danny Mills as centre backs with Matt Cox on their right flank and Luca Scanella left. A midfield of Kurt Greenaway, Ross Cheek, Liam Avery and Rob Parrott with Sam Boultwood and Tom White up front. On bench duty were Ollie McAleese, Rikkie Letch, Connor Blanchard, Jason Cotton and Will Ab-Iowerth.
The first Gees attack led to a corner after the Worthing keeper appeared to fumble a Luca Scanella shot; we’ll perhaps hear more of this little contest later. A second attack and a second corner from the left, this time unlucky to end in a handball given against Kurt Greenaway as the ball came down in the box. Tom White set up Ross Cheek and the keeper saved for corner No.3; four corners in all in the first ten minutes. Tom then put a Rob Parrott cross over the bar. On 17 minutes Kurt went down following a challenge on the halfway line to be substituted straight away by Connor Blanchard. Afterwards Kurt was down about his chances of playing again this season; let’s hope he’s wrong, he’s been an absolute stalwart all season for us all over the park.
Connor took the right back berth with Coxy moving to the left and Luca into the midfield. Connor’s first run down the right saw him pick up the ball from a Cheek/Parrot combination move and fire in a cross picked up in turn by Liam and Coxy which resulted in another corner, Danny heading just wide. The corners and crosses kept coming … and going, Luke volleying one over the bar and the keeper just getting the better of a Ross Cheek chance. From one corner Worthing broke straight up the park and won their own and first corner on 33 minutes which was despatched high over the top. Sam and Tom put Cheeky through only to see the keeper somehow save the day with his legs. Danny Mills chased the ball into and along the Worthing goal line to see his cross signal the half time whistle. No goals but Godalming on top through the 45 minutes.
For the second half Sam Boultwood moved to right back with Connor straying further forward, otherwise no changes. From the off Connor juggled his way down the wing to see his shot knocked out for a corner by the keeper. A poor Worthing clearance appeared to hit another defender and go out for a corner which was not given. The little handbag incident that followed saw both Luke Beale and Worthing’s No.1 go into the book. It was tactical change time near the hour mark as the bench sent on Rikkie Letch to replace Tom White. Two minutes later and Luca Scanella picked up the ball just outside the box and had a pop for goal, the shot along the ground deceived the poor keeper, or maybe it was the pitch, and bounced off him into the roof of the net. No matter 1 – 0 Gees! The reward for shooting on sight and on target.
Alfie who once again had found himself with little to do tidied up after a Worthing breakaway while back at their own end the Worthing keeper, the goal aside, continued to earn his keep appearing to palm away a Rob Parrott effort as it rebounded off the far post. Jason Cotton replaced Liam Avery on 70 minutes with Will Ab-Iowerth replacing Matt Cox five minutes later. Will slotting in in front of Connor on the right and immediately doing his bit to emulate Luca’s effort with a shot from range that went wide. Rikkie latched on to a corner ball and saw his effort hit the junction of the post and bar and Jason beat Rob to another corner only to see his header hit the post. The final substitution saw Ollie McAleese come on for Luca. Time for Sam to cop a yellow for a little ankle tap, Danny to join him for taking too long on a throw in and for a Cheeky shot to hit a defender as the goal beckoned. 1 – 0 it was.
5th place on 61 points, 2nd tightest defence in the division, 2nd best goal difference. Not a bad season’s work and it is far from over. 1 – 0 is becoming our favourite score of late; I’ll settle for four more 1 – 0’s to round the season off, although I suspect if that is the case my fingernails will be ground down by the end of it. It would not do to finish without a moan of course. I’ve been generally OK with this move to the Sussex FA but I’m aware I’m in the minority. As it stands the great and good of that organisation have apparently decided the Play-off final will be on Coronation Saturday. Whatever your views are in my book that decision lacks respect and is unnecessary. None of next week’s outstanding fixtures involve the four Play-off sides and, as the Wessex League have announced, the Playoffs should have been this Tuesday and Saturday next.
Off to Wick next Saturday it is.
Let’s do it.