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First Team, Match Report

30 Dec 2023

Match Report: Guildford City 1-3 Farnham Town

In their final game of 2023, Farnham Town travelled up the Hog’s Back to The Spectrum to take on Guildford City in a game that would’ve likely been called off if the morning downpour was more severe. A very soft and uneven pitch was the surface for this battle.

Farnham welcomed Guildford City to The Memorial Ground earlier in the Autumn and won comfortably 6-0, but given the conditions on the day it featured to be a much tighter game second time around.

Whilst considering the conditions, Paul Johnson made three changes to the team that beat Camberley Town 4-0 the previous Saturday, with Brandon Kalu returning at left-back, Shamal Edwards back into the attack and Lewis Flatman restored to attacking midfield for Josh Lelan, Charlie Postance and Owen Dean respectively.

The overcast conditions at kick off didn’t last long as the heavens opened after just three minutes of the contest, only adding to the problems many players had tracking and controlling the ball, and it was a misjudged clearance that presented Shamal Edwards with an opportunity to break the deadlock.

A complete air shot at the back looking to clear the ball allowed Edwards to pounce on a loose ball and drive at the Guildford City goal. He skipped around the challenge from the goalkeeper and steered the ball into the empty net to give Farnham the early lead.

Frankly speaking, the swirling wind, stop start rain and bobbly pitch did inhibit both sides from playing much out from the back and into feet as long balls over the top became the theme of the afternoon, but Edwards was a constant threat, this time played in down the left by Flatman, dribbling beyond his defender and firing a low left-footed shot towards the far right-hand post only to see it flash narrowly wide.

Darryl Sanders probably came closest to doubling Farnham’s lead in the first half when his deft touch with the outside of his right foot was able to control a high, looping cross from Adam Liddle on the right wing. He was able to stop the ball in its tracks and then looked to pick out the bottom right corner, his shot beat the goalkeeper but was cleared before crossing the line by a defender scrambling to get back.

Midway through the first half, Edwards again looked to add to his tally when he was able to turn his defender on the edge of the box to fire a shot towards the bottom left corner this time, only to be denied by a smart save.

The big talking point of the game came a minute before the interval when Liddle slid into a challenge around the halfway line, leaving the recipient in a heap on the floor, and the Guildford City players didn’t waste any time getting in the face of the referee to let him know their thoughts on the tackle.

Despite initially looking to only award a yellow card, the referee consulted with the linesman on the near side and decided to show Liddle a red card for the challenge, much to the shock and bemusement of the strong Farnham contingent watching on from the stands, as were the Farnham coaching staff who had already had a talking to from the referee after letting him know their thoughts after a clear Town throw-in was awarded the other way earlier in the game, and Johnson was subsequently booked in the aftermath of that.

Speaking after the game, Johnson said that he told his team to stick to their principles and didn’t look to change their approach as they looked to put the game to bed. Set pieces also became more prominent given the strong wind behind Farnham in the second half.

It would be set pieces that would hand Farnham their next opportunities to score, Flatman finding the ball knocked down to his feet from a Harry Cooksley corner just 10 minutes after the restart but sliced the shot wide of the left-hand post.

Another misjudged defensive clearance then presented Edwards with another opportunity to break on goal. He went round the left of his defender and fired a left-footed shot across goal but again, it’s just wide of the far post.

On the hour mark, Sanders was cut down on the right corner of the box, giving Cooksley a chance to deliver again from a dead ball. His whipped cross found Ryan Kinnane in the middle of the box who started his run from outside the penalty area and he was on hand to head it home to double Farnham’s lead.

Farnham began to take the sting out of the game by working the clock at dead balls given their lead and man disadvantage on the field. Sanders drove forward with purpose five minutes from time and stuck his shot well. It took a deflection and bounced narrowly wide and out for a corner.

Cooksley stepped up and flighted the ball up against the wind to accentuate the in-swing on the delivery, many players tried to get a touch on it but it evaded everyone, bounced back up and into the top right corner of the net – above the man on the post who couldn’t keep it out, and the Town had put the game to bed.

To cap off a poor afternoon’s officiating for the referee, he awarded the hosts a penalty with two minutes to go after an innocuous 50/50 aerial challenge from Josh Lelan gave the Guildford attacker an opportunity to flop and make the most of the contact. Even the hosts’ coaching staff said it was a laughable decision. Either way, the spot kick was buried and Guildford had a consolation goal, but Farnham were able to close out the game.

Farnham make it 16 successive wins in the league this season, the perfect record remains in tact – as does our position at the top of the table, three points ahead of Knaphill with three games in hand.

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