A hat-trick scored within the last twenty minutes by North Greenford substitute and debutant Brian Testolin turned this exciting and entertaining contest decisively in the Blues favour resulting in the club’s second and most impressive league win of the season.
This was an extremely hard-working and committed performance by United with every player giving 100 per cent after centre-back Kamal Akel had suffered an injury in the warm-up. Akel was replaced by Carl Bower, and with the team also missing Guy Ansah-Palmer, a key feature of this victory was the performance of Charlie Connor and Ryan Murphy at the heart of the Blues defence.
They were well supported at the back by Bower on the left and Sean Hillier on the right and also, in midfield, by Tom O’Regan, Sammy Adams, Daniel Vincent and Sandro Costa all of whom worked tirelessly to close down their Guildford City opponents, as did Nathaniel Mensah and Jordan Ellis up front.
The high tempo of the game was established during the lively opening exchanges when both sides created good chances to take an early lead. On 7 minutes it needed an excellent save by Greenford keeper Alex Partridge to keep out a goal-bound Guildford effort and, at the other end, the City defence did well to protect their keeper Luke Badiali.
As well as working hard United were stringing together some incisive attacking moves and midway through the half a glorious cross to the far post was met by Mensah who failed to find the target when he mistimed his header and it flew past the wrong side of the post. Later in the half Costa made another of his penetrating, mazy runs into the City area but instead of pulling the ball back to his team mates waiting in the box he tried to squeeze it in past Badiali at the near post.
There were other chances for the Blues and it would have been a fair reflection on the overall balance of play had the home side returned to their dressing room at half time two or three goals to the good. As it happened, the enthralling if at times, for the home contingent, frustrating first half somehow ended goalless, and the concern was whether Greenford could sustain the same level of commitment and endeavour right up until the final whistle.
By the end of the contest that question had been decisively answered in the affirmative, but at the beginning of the period, although United continued to press, Guildford looked tighter at the back and increased their own threat as they mounted several dangerous attacks on the home goal. Twenty minutes from time Partridge pulled off another top-drawer save to keep out an effort from City striker Kieran Campbell and soon after, with the Blues keeper off his line, a well-executed lob looked certain it would break the deadlock, but the hosts were saved by their crossbar as the ball rebounded back into play.
Ironically, just a minute after this narrow escape and in what was virtually the next attacking move of the contest, it was Greenford that finally succeeded in opening the scoring. Brian Testolin, who had only been on the pitch six minutes after replacing Ellis, fired in a shot that Badiali was only able to parry and was first to the ball to stab it over the visitors’ line.
The contest continued going from end to end with Guildford pressing to draw level and on 81 minutes came agonisingly close to doing so when another apparently goal-bound effort rattled off the United post. After that, once again on the end of the Blues next chance to attack, a fine move from the back involving Hillier and Jamal Velinor, who had come on to replace O’Regan, played Testolin through on goal and on this occasion the Blues debutant placed a cool, composed low finish past Badiali.
Two minutes after that, with five minutes of normal time remaining, United sealed their win with a third when Costa was brought down after another penetrating run and referee Jack Oxenham immediately pointed to the spot. Blues normal penalty taker, Daniel Vincent, passed the ball to Testolin who willingly accepted the invitation, claiming his hat-trick with a firmly struck low drive into the corner.
Although Guildford denied Greenford a clean sheet with a goal scored with virtually the last kick of the match after a fine run and cross by Dan Stewart had been clinically tucked away by Campbell, the home side were delighted by their deserved win. They will be looking to produce more of the same in the remainder of their October league fixtures, away at Abbey Rangers and Epsom and Ewell, and home to Hanworth Villa on the 31st.
NGU Team: Alex Partridge, Sean Hillier, Ryan Murphy, Sammy Adams, Carl Bower, Charlie Connor, Tom O’Regan (Jamal Velinor 78), Daniel Vincent (captain), Nathaniel Mensah, Jordan Ellis (Brian Testolin 68), Sandro Costa