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Godalming Town Preview

After last week’s hard-fought win over Hythe Town at The Pan, The Rooks head to pastures new on Saturday when they travel to bottom of the table Godalming Town.  With the hosts fighting for their lives it promises to be a tough game, one that manager Darren Freeman will have to carefully consider his starting XI for.  The good news is he is likely to have Charlie Coppola and Lloyd Cotton back in contention after injury, whilst Jamie Brotherton’s cameo appearance from the bench against Hythe Town gave everyone around The Pan a lift.

Despite being substituted on Saturday both Alex Malins and Stephen Okoh are likely to be fit for the game, giving the boss a selection headache with virtually the whole first team squad available for the first time this season.

How was last season?
Godalming most often feel that they are the make-weights of the Non-League structure in the south.  Since promotion from the Combined Counties league a decade ago they’ve moved between the Isthmian South, Southern Central and Southern South West Leagues.  After finishing tenth in the Central League last season they’ve once again been shunted back to the Isthmian League, where they have enjoyed a couple of Play-off places in their time.  Last season there was never any hope that they would move up towards the Play-offs post-Christmas, despite no one side running away with the league.  They hit tenth place in early January and their position only varied by one place up and down for the remainder of the season.  They weren’t big scorers, only hitting the net twice in a game on four occasions, although they also conceded just over a goal a game.

Southern League Central Division – 10thP 42 W 19 D 10 L 13 GS 51 GA 45 GD +6 PTS 67

  • FA Cup – 1st Qualifying Round – lost at home to Kidlington Town 1-0
  • FA Trophy – Preliminary Round – lost away to Taunton Town 4-1
  • Surrey Senior Cup – Runners up – Lost to Merstham 4-1 at Woking FC
  • Evostik League Cup – Third Round– Lost at home to Northwood 2-0

How has this season been for Godalming Town?
In a word, poor.  They currently prop up the league with fifteen points, with the gap to safety now up to eighteen points.  Should results go against them over the next seven days they could find themselves relegated.  After switching over from the Southern League, Town have struggled since, picking up just one point from their opening ten games which included a night to forget at Carshalton Athletic where they lost 10-0.  After they signed Jack Mazzone they enjoyed a mini-revival with their new signing scoring thirteen goals in fifteen games.  Alas, Mazzone was tempted away by league leaders Tooting & Mitcham United back in January, although his replacement Graeme Purdy has scored seven goals in six games, including a hatrick in the key home game against Guernsey.  Since that win back in February they have lost four in a row including a 90th minute defeat at Sittingbourne on Saturday.

Their home form this season has seen them win three out of nineteen games, conceding 54 goals in the process.  In contrast, Lewes have one of the best records on the road in the league this season, winning eleven out of eighteen and scoring 35 goals along the way.

Last six games (Ryman League South only)

Lewes –        W 4 D 0 L 2 GS 12 GA 9 PTS 12
Godalming – W 1 D 0 L 5 GS 7 GA 12 PTS 3

When did we last meet Godalming Town?
Our meeting back in December was the first time we had met in a competitive fixture with Lewes easing to a 3-0 victory at The Pan.

With Jack Dixon and Lloyd Harrington both serving suspensions, Stacey Freeman and Lloyd Cotton still injured, the strong spine of the team was absent but Darren Freeman was able to bring in Alex Malins for his first start in two months.  Dean Stewart-Hunter, impressive on his debut last week at East Grinstead Town, retained his place at right-back.  Also added to the squad was new loan signing from Wimbledon Egli Kaja.

The Rooks started positively with Stephen Okoh always looking lively whilst Ronnie Conlon relishing his more advanced role thanks to the fine job as the holding midfielder by Gus Sow.  It took ten minutes for the Godalming keeper to be called into action, making a smart save from Jonté Smith but three minutes later he was powerless to stop The Rooks taking the Lenard when Jonté held the ball up superbly then played the ball into Okoh who buried the ball into the far corner.

The rest of the half saw the Rooks struggle to create any further chances with the visitors doing a good job of closing down any threat although at the other end Chris Winterton was almost a spectator.

Having come from behind to win at Walton Casuals on Wednesday, Godalming came out refreshed and looked to pressure the Lewes defence.  Despite an early shot from Charlie Coppola that hit the outside of the post, the visitors looked the more comfortable in the opening exchanges.  However, they were undone by the Rooks second goal in the 51st minute when James Hammond won a 50/50 on the edge of his own box and sent Ronnie Conlon through on the right.  The young midfielder powered forward, drew two defenders and squared it to Jonté Smith to score one of the easiest of goals.

The two-goal cushion saw Darren introduce new loaned Egli Kaja and he was involved in the Lewes third goal seven minutes later when he beat his man on the right and crossed to the far post where Stephen Okoh was unmarked.  He controlled the ball before shooting low at the near post which wrong footed the Godalming keeper Daly and the ball flew in off the near post.

The final twenty minutes saw the Rooks defence hold strong, denying the visitors any shots on goal and securing three points in their final league game before Christmas in front of the second highest crowd in the Ryman League South.

About Wey Court
Wey Court has a homely feel and is certainly very welcoming with a decent clubhouse that has Sky Sports on big TVs and a decent array of beers.  As you enter the ground you will find the tea bar.  There is one covered seated stand whilst behind each goal there are covered terraces, with hard standing around the rest of the ground.  For those who love a bit of trivia, the ground has turnstiles from Millwall’s Den (not the New Den) and Southend United’s Roots Hall.

How to get to Wey Court
Some may be tempted to take the scenic route across to the Hampshire borders on the B2133 or A272 but most will come via the M25 and then down the A3 towards Portsmouth.  Navigate the Guildford Bypass and stay on the A3 when the road splits on the Hogs Back then take the next exit.  At the roundabout take the left turn onto the B3000.  Follow this road for a mile or so and turn right onto the A3100 at the T-junction.  Pass the Manor Inn on the left and then the petrol station on the right. Wey Court is 50 yards further along the road on the right hand side.  If you are coming up the A3 then exit at Milford and follow the A3100 from Godalming, pass the Three Lions pub on the left and then turn left into Wey Court immediately after the Leathern Bottle pub.  Please note that the club car park is for players and officials only. Spectators are asked to use the public car park next door to the ground. The charges for this car park are as follows:  Monday-Saturday (including bank holidays), 08:00-19:00: Up to 2 hours: 50p, Over 2 hours: £1.50.   The journey time via the M25 is around 1 hour 20 minutes (72 miles), or around the same time for a 49 mile journey if you come up via the A27 and B2133

If you are coming via train then you will need to either change once at Clapham Junction, or go via Brighton, Gatwick Airport and Guildford which actually is the quicker route by around 20 minutes.  The nearest station is actually Farncombe which is a ten minute walk from the ground.  Exit the station from Platform 2. Turn right at the bottom of the station’s entrance. Then turn left down St Johns Street. At the church, turn left along the alleyway. Follow this path all the way to the main road. Here you will find the Leathern Bottle Pub on the right and Wey Court on the left.  An Off-Peak Day Return is currently £25.50.

Admission at Wey Court
Admission last season was £8 for adults, £5 for concessions (senior citizens and students), Under16s £1 and accompanied under 11s are admitted free of charge.

Fancy a beer?
There’s certainly no shortage of places to drink close to the ground.  Almost opposite to the entrance is the Manor Inn which although is part of the Beefeater chain, does offer some good value food and a couple of ales on draft.  Towards Godalming Town Centre on Meadrow is The Three Lions, a Shepherd Neame pub which is a good stopping off point from the station, whilst closer to the station is The Cricketers on Nightingale Road.  For those who are coming via the A3 route then a five minute drive from the ground is the 16th Century Withies Inn on Withies Lane that is definitely one for a quiet drink and post-match dinner.