Guernsey Reclaim Muratti Vase

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The 101st Hepburns Insurance Muratti Vase Final created a piece of history on Saturday as Steve Sharman, his coaching team and players, won a Muratti match at Footes Lane Stadium for the first time.

Guernsey entered the match having lost the previous two Muratti Vase Finals and having never won a Muratti match at Footes Lane but despite both of those facts it was the home team that made a fast start in front of over 2500 spectators, the majority of whom were supporting the Sarnians. It was Dom Heaume, playing in his 13th consecutive Final, who opened the goal-scoring in the 3rd minute after Dave Rihoy’s powerful shot could only be parried, leaving Heaume with a simple finish. Jersey attempted to get back into the match and after a hopeful cross, a header bounced back of the post into the arms of goalkeeper Leroi Riley. Despite this close attempt, it was Guernsey who continued to dictate the pace of the game, and it was some quick thinking from Rihoy that brought about Guernsey’s second goal. After the ball deflected out of play off a Jersey defender, Rihoy took a quick throw-in before Jersey had been allowed to regain their defensive shape, and Ross Allen found himself through on goal with only the goalkeeper to beat. Despite an acute angle, Allen made no mistake with a powerful effort into the far corner, which was his sixth Muratti Final in which he had scored since 2010.

Jersey again sought to get back into the match and could have pulled one goal back, only to see a poorly directed shot hit the post. With a two goal advantage, Guernsey began to focus on defending that lead but despite surrendering possession, it was Guernsey who continued to create the best chances with Rihoy unlucky not to put Guernsey further ahead before half-time. The second-half began in the same fashion as the end of the first period, with Jersey being allowed to retain possession in areas of the pitch that did not threaten the Guernsey goal. Sharman’s tactics, and the manner in which the players implemented the game plan in the second-half ensured that Jersey failed to convert possession into meaningful chances. The Guernsey midfield of Tom Dodds, captain Craig Young and Heaume, provided resolute protection to the defence, which was expertly led by Simon Geall, Sam Cochrane and Jamie Dodd and it was a surprise when Jersey did pull a goal back after a scramble in the home penalty area. That fortunate goal however, proved to be Jersey’s only effort on goal throughout the second-half and it was not long before the Guernsey players, coaches and supporters were celebrating regaining the famous Vase after a deserved 2-1 win.

After the match, Sharman commented that:

‘I'm delighted for the players, delighted for the people of Guernsey, everything that the Muratti means for them. Two fantastic goals at the start - we planned to start well, on the front foot, and not let Jersey take the initiative. We made the most of our chances early on, we pressured them, created chances and getting two goals is exactly the reward for that. Going 2-0 up early on however, is quite a dangerous score-line but the players were comfortable throughout and applied the tactics we had set-out and I am so pleased because winning a Muratti is special and we had to work hard for it.

There are an unbelievable number of emotions you go through during the course of a Muratti and I am so pleased for the players who had been written off by many before this match and also for the younger players who have come through and freshened things up.’

The result means the Greens have now won the Muratti Vase 46 times, Jersey 53, with one shared in 1937 and Alderney lifting the Vase once, in 1920.

The Guernsey squad will now focus attention on the 2017 Island Games in Gotland, which begin in six weeks. Guernsey will travel to Scandinavia with a young and exciting squad, looking to defend the title that was won in Jersey two years ago.

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