On Wednesday evening, two days after their match at the Wibbandune Stadium against Balham, a much-improved performance ended with North Greenford narrowly losing 2-1 to Guildford City in a game played at Wey Court the home of Godalming Town.
Although this was United’s fourth defeat on the spin it was by far their best all-round display in recent games, particularly in the second half when they were the better team and came agonisingly close to scoring before Nathaniel Mensah finally broke the Blues goal drought in the 86th minute.
Unfortunately both Guildford goals resulted from Greenford errors. Repeating the disastrous start on Monday, with just two minutes played the Blues conceded a penalty when right-back Jack Roper tripped City left midfielder Jordan Gallagher inside the area.
Dan Stewart converted the spot-kick with an emphatic finish, driving the ball into the roof of the United net and giving keeper James Harry no chance. This was Harry’s first game for the club since the nasty injury he suffered in the club’s opening game of the season at Welwyn Garden City and not the ideal way for him to mark his return.
From this point Greenford competed well for the remainder of the half, making some promising runs from the back but still not able to make their efforts count in their opponent’s final third. The closest they came to equalising was when Mensah was inches away from getting on the end of a very good Ralford Thorpe delivery across the City six-yard box.
United also made a promising start to the second half but still needed more quality with their final ball. However, on the hour a second error resulted in City grabbing a second against the run of play when striker Evan Lopes beat Harry to a long ball played down the middle and was left with an easy finish into the empty visitors’ net.
The Blues though did not drop their heads and continued to dominate play with Carl Bower moved up into midfield, youth team player Kian Martin replacing Thorpe and taking over the left-back position. The change made a significant difference with Bower firing in two excellent strikes in the 75th and 80th minutes, both of which would have got Greenford back on level terms had it not been for two equally brilliant match-winning saves by City keeper Kornel Ziobrowski.
With some four minutes of normal time remaining Greenford finally scored the goal their performance deserved – the side’s first in five games – when, following a fine move, the ball was played out to Mensah on the left and he placed an accurate, clinical finish past Ziobrowski to set up a dramatic finale.
Shortly after he’d scored Mensah came within a whisker of adding a second when, getting on the end of an excellent Roper cross, he was unable to keep his shot down and his effort flew over the home crossbar. United then nearly conceded a third when Harry was again beaten to a long ball but this time saved by an excellent goal-line block and clearance.
A similar quality of performance – without the errors – is needed when the Blues begin their final round of matches beginning at Berkeley Fields this Saturday against Chertsey Town.
NGU Team: James Harry, Jack Roper, Carl Bower, Stuart Muldrew, Michael O’Neil, Austin Schofield, Nathaniel Mensah, Sammy Adams, Leius Sinclair (Ben Kilshaw 75), Jamal Velinor (James Barnett 62), Ralford Thorpe (Kian Martin 55)