Guernsey U21s Retain the Ambassadeur Bowl
Report courtesy of the Guernsey Press.
FOUR in a row for the Greens and coach Angus Mackay, but it was a close call in the end at the Track.
Having raced into a 3-0 lead inside 35 minutes, they were holding on precariously at the finish down to 10 with the loss of their keeper and more than five minutes added on.
But Guernsey were well worth the victory watched by a crowd of perhaps as many as 800.
Jacob Fallaize was a starter for the home side despite his prolonged absence from playing due to knee issues and alongside Tom Dodds, Charlton Gauvain and Kyle Smith was one of the four starters with plenty of Guernsey FC experience.
It was a strong starting XI with Will Fazakerley and Smith forming the two-pronged attack with the hope that Seb Smeed would pull the strings from a wide position on the left and Gauvain on the right.
That was the plan anyway and it worked a treat.
Inside two minutes Smith produced a cross from the left and Fazakerley’s diving header flashed against the bar and over.
Smith was soon testing the Jersey keeper again in a lively start for the Greens but before long Jersey, too, were hitting the bar, Jake Huckerby’s deflected effort leaving Jordan Kelly for dead and, to the home side’s relief, falling off the bar and over.
Jersey had responded well to the two early scares but on eight minutes they were behind.
Fazakerley, who later picked up the man-of-the-match award, showed his power and although his left foot shot was half blocked by keeper Dan Burrell the ball fell kindly for Gauvain to finish off.
It was an impressively fast start by the home side and in the first 10min. Fazakerley displayed what he is all about and the watching Chris Tardif must surely have been impressed with the big, mobile No. 9 who had such a clever foil in Kyle Smith as, for once, Guernsey were not physically inferior to the Reds.
Fallaize, Fazakerley and Smith were a combined handful in the air for Jersey and Guernsey might easily have doubled their lead as Smith’s piledriver was parried and Fazakerley, slightly off balance, blazed the loose ball over.
Smith was outstanding in the opening 20 and Jersey were on the rack, Birrell almost beaten again as a ricochet off a teammate flew goalwards and struck him in the chest,
Jake Prince scuffed his shot and Kelly collected easily as Jersey reminded the home fans that the game was far from won and when Shay Miley’s free kick came in from wide left Kelly fumbled onto the bar.
In a terrific opening, Gauvain rasped a shot close at the near post and from Smeed’s corner Fazakerley timed his run perfectly to produce a lovely first-time finish.
Fazakerley then miskicked another half chance as the Greens continued to flow forward, playing some lovely football and Gauvain was also to go close after a terrific turn and burst by Fazakerley and Smith having taken up the move.
On 35min. Guernsey got a third.
Gauvain produced a peach of a pass which released Louis Falla for a run on goal.
Birrell smothered the centre back’s effort but the ball ran loose and the deserving Smith smashed home the rebound into an empty net.
Jersey were in big trouble and although they were forcing a few corners there was nothing clear cut with the defensive axis of Fallaize and Falla enjoying strong games.
As referee Neil Jarvis, calm and impressive throughout, blew for the break there was much for Jersey coach Steve Coutanche and his assistants to reflect upon after a horror first half.
The irony of the situation was that Coutanche had welcomed the use of a big pitch and those same expanses had been utilised so effectively, not by his men, but Mackay’s.
Into the second half Fazakerley had an early effort blocked by a Jersey hand, although it was in no way a penalty, and with the rain now pouring the pitch was becoming softer and slippery.
Guernsey were first to make a change, Louis Hunter replacing Charlie Laine on 51min. and the Greens were already slipping into containment mode.
As an attacking force the Reds were proving to be a damp squib, while the Greens were playing on the break, which for the big crowd was a source of frustration after the exhilaration of the first 45.
The old stand came to life as Fazakerley bulldozed the Jersey captain off the ball by the corner flag and cut in before firing a shot just too high of the far post.
At the other end Prince, capitalising on Falla’s mistake, saw his skimmer tipped around the post, and on 75 he fired into the side-netting under pressure.
Guernsey then lost keeper Kelly to a red card as he mistimed his challenge on Prince, who was running onto a through ball.
It was the right call.
Smith was withdrawn for replacement keeper Nick Batiste who made one fine stop but, with time all but up, was culpable as Harrison Moon darted in to score.
Guernsey were now sitting very deep and inviting pressure and when they conceded a free kick on the edge of the box with already four minutes of stoppage time played, Batiste parried and Sol Solomon arrived to score.
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