Guildford City lost a five-goal thriller as they fell to a 3-2 defeat at Fleet Town in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday afternoon.

After a series of poor performances, Guildford came out like a side transformed. In a thrilling game for the neutrals, City were desperately unlucky to leave Calthorpe Park with no reward.

City did start the game hesitatingly and early on Fleet had a half chance at the back post. In the 15th minute Fleet counter attacked swiftly and a low cross from the right was converted by Tommy Whitby.

But Guildford responded positively. A penalty shout was waved away when Jamie Hilton went down in the box, and Anthony Ogbanufe was posing problems on the right. On 28 minutes Jake Heighes headed a free kick into the net, but the linesman had spotted a very controversial offside, and after a consultation the goal was ruled out.

But this perceived injustice spurred City on and their game lifted several notches. James Glover's shot from the edge of the box was deflected inches wide of the post. Then on 36 minutes Callum Sullivan’s fine pass set the impressive Ben Mitchell through on the left hand side of the box where he was brought down as he rounded the Fleet goalkeeper Filip Chalupnkzak. Mitchell dusted himself down to drive home the penalty from the spot.

City were playing confident and attractive football, and there was clearly everything to play for in the second half as the sides went in on level terms at 1-1.

Action from Guildford City's 3-2 defeat at Fleet Town (Photo: Cosmo Wells)
Action from Guildford City's 3-2 defeat at Fleet Town (Photo: Cosmo Wells) (Cosmo Wells)

City opened the second period with attacking intent. A low Ogbanufe cross just eluded the stretching Mitchell. Minutes later Mitchell received the ball on the left and went past two defenders before hitting a 20-yard piledriver which was spectacularly parried by Chalupnikzak. The high rebound was turned wide by Jamie Hilton from what was a difficult chance.

Around the hour mark Fleet saw a long-range effort go wide, and the home side went close again with a header from a corner that went over the top. In the 70th minute Ogbanufe and Leon Dadey combined to set up Mitchell, who pulled his shot wide. Soon afterwards City deservedly took the lead when Owen Sims’ cross was headed home from close range by Mitchell.

Guildford came close to extending their advantage when Heighes headed a free kick back into the box, where it deflected off a defender in the direction of the goal. Credit to Chalupnkzak, who scrambled back to scoop the ball away from the goal line.

The game’s defining moment came on 87 minutes. Mitchell’s strength saw him come through three challenges and his low cross found Hilton free in front of an open goal. Inexplicably the young midfielder lifted what should have been a tap in over the bar.

Experienced Sweeney watchers feared the worst and so it came to pass. Dan Bone scored a 92nd minute penalty for Fleet to bring the scores level, and worse was to follow for the visitors. A corner came in in the 97th minute and was headed goalward for Bone to turn in an unlikely winner to break City’s hearts.

Full credit to City’s travelling support who once again sang their hearts out in support of their team. They didn’t deserve the abuse they received from Fleet’s goalkeeper, who thought the best way of celebrating a win was by abusing the City fans behind the goal.

Action from Guildford City's 3-2 defeat at Fleet Town (Photo: Cosmo Wells)
Action from Guildford City's 3-2 defeat at Fleet Town (Photo: Cosmo Wells) (Cosmo Wells)

The defeat leaves Guildford in 17th place in the Combined Counties Premier Division South. City have picked up 28 points from their 33 league games, and are seven points clear of bottom side Colliers Wood United.

Next up for Guildford is a trip to Isthmian League South Central Division outfit Badshot Lea in the quarter-finals of the Aldershot Senior Cup on Thursday evening (7.45pm).

Guildford will then travel to play-off chasing AFC Croydon Athletic in the Combined Counties Premier Division South on Saturday (3pm).

Guildford City: Mac Chisholm, Owen Sims, Callum Sullivan, Jake Heighes, James Glover, Niall Stillwell, Anthony Ogbanufe, Shiloh Ndiulor, Ben Mitchell, Jamie Hilton, Leon Dadey. Unused substitutes: Rayyan Adam, Lewis Taylor, Jack Phillips, James Whiting, Shane Johnson.

Referee: Mudiwa Manyange.

Attendance: 473.

By Barry Underwood