First - Report
|Guildford City||1||vs||1||Mole Valley SCR|
Elgar penalty gives Valley a share of the points
A Danny Elgar penalty gave Mole Valley a 1-1 draw they richly deserved in a hard fought encounter with reigning champions Guildford City
To the neutral you would have been hard pushed to work out how the two sides are at such opposing ends of the table and separated by 40 points.
Manager Darren Salmon was forced into three changes from the side that fought back so well against Banstead in midweek, with Nick Wightwick and Aaron Smith out injured and Dave Ball unavailable, in came Jameish Holait, James Brown and the fit again Max Bajeux.
Valley started well, with the lively Danny Elgar causing problems for the Guildford backline with his quick feet, whilst the pace of Max Bajeux and Theo Campbell was also giving Valley some joy down the flanks.
Guildford when they had the ball were restricted to some fairly long range efforts, which were either off target, or relatively comfortable saves for the excellent Leigh Bowden.
Valley's hardworking midfield partnership of Brown and Rob McCarry were not giving their Guildford counterparts any time to settle on the ball, and as such Valley started to exert some control on the game.
Valley took the lead on 23 minutes, when Bajeux was fouled in the area, and Elgar stepped up to crash home the spot kick. Guildford were clearly rocked by this, but responded positively, as you would expect the leaders to do, and found themselves level on 35 minutes, when the giant forward Austin Gacheru fired home passed Bowden.
Further chances fell to Elgar and Campbell but they were unable to find a way passed Antony Hall in the Guildford goal and half time came with the scores level.
Guildford opened the second half positively, but again found themselves up against a strong Valley backline, with the centre half partnership of George Murphy and Luke Harmsworth in dominating form - special mention to Harmsworth who having reluctantly dropped into the back four has taken to the role like a duck to water and has been outstanding alongside Murphy in recent weeks.
Valley replaced Elgar with Oshilada and Bajeux with Page as they looked to freshen things up, but despite their best efforts their were unable to trouble Hall, and in the end had to settle for a hard fought and well deserved point.
Guildford will no doubt be in the top 2 come season end, and it would be no surprise if they were to repeat their title winning performance of last season, so for Valley to pick up a point shows how much they have improved since the start of the season.
Team: Leigh Bowden; Jameish Holait, George Murphy, Luke Harmsworth, Bradley Grant; James Brown, Rob McCarry, Jake Richards (Aaron Bogle); Max Bajeux (James Page), Theo Campbell, Danny Elgar (Adewale Oshilada)