‘Dom’-inating Green Lions finally get just rewards
Monday 7th May 2012, 3:30PM BST.
Guernsey FC 2, Colliers Wood United 0 (after extra-time)
AFTER a cup run that has contained every different emotion possible, it was only fitting that Guernsey FC’s glorious debut season should be rounded off the hard way.
The Green Lions ensured it was a double-winning start to their history as they added the Premier Challenge Cup to their already-secured CCL Division One title, and all in front of a bumper away day crowd of 667.
Green was certainly the colour at Farnborough on Friday night, but the impressive visiting contingent were put through the proverbial wringer again. It was the third time in five games GFC had been taken beyond 90 minutes.
True, it never had the drama of either the success over Egham Town or Guildford City, but it was as tense in the later stages.
GFC’s superiority simply could not be turned into the single goal that would have won it.
In the end, they relied on an extra-time brace from the brilliant Dom Heaume, the best player on the park before his decisive goals, which unsurprisingly and deservedly won him man-of-the-match.
He and his attacking colleagues coped without injured Ross Allen well and had it not been for some strong interventions by Colliers Wood keeper Dan Burnett, the game could have been sewn up a lot earlier.
The first chance came as early as the seventh minute when Heaume threaded through Dave Rihoy, but his low shot was smartly saved by the feet of Burnett.
Even in the early stages, it was clear that Colliers Wood’s game plan was to defend for their lives and frustrate GFC, while trying to hit them on the counter-attack.
To their credit, although helped by the odd bit of luck here and there, it was a tactic that worked well and the sole man up top, Mario Embalo, created problems with his surging runs through the Lions’ midfield at times.
When that happened, though, GFC had their own safe pair of hands in Chris Tardif, who was faultless throughout, although his opposite number saw more of the early action.
Rihoy dragged wide from close range after the tried-and-tested Sarnian corner routine, while a lengthy goalmouth scramble saw the UK side eventually scramble the ball away.
GFC were kept honest when Embalo’s run and pass saw Harold Odametey take two bites at the cherry, the second forcing a low stop from Tardif.
Matt Loaring shot wide after a strong run at the other end, before they came even closer on 39min., as Colliers Wood’s tactic of throwing bodies in the way again worked.
The centre-back pairing of Sam Mead and Phillip Frodsham were particularly impressive, but on this occasion the otherwise poor Joe Mead was the hero.
Ryan-Zico Black’s intelligent quick free-kick found Heaume and, although his shot was blocked, it fell invitingly for Rihoy some 10 yards out.
His low shot looked destined for the far bottom corner, but Mead’s excellent slide cleared off the line and kept his side on level terms.
Ryan Hughes’ ambitious low long-range effort called Tardif into action two minutes later, while Loaring again went close with the final chance of the half.
That first-half had seen GFC largely on top thanks to their midfield dominance from Black, Rhys Jordan and Angus Mackay, but Colliers Wood started to prove their ability after the break.
From then on, it was largely frustrating for the Lions, who were facing opposition defending ever deeper as time wore on.
Another fine point-blank block denied Heaume after Jordan had slid a cross, but that was a rare breakthrough into the 18-yard box being defended with real heart.
Jordan made way for Glyn Dyer midway through the half and he added some real bite for GFC in a strong showing, although it was Colliers Wood who came close when Matt Tanton’s rising shot flew inches wide.
Odametey should have done better after pouncing on a catalogue of GFC defensive errors, but fired wide after Tardif had done well to close down the angle.
These chances were creating a now edgy feel about the evening and one goal looked certain to win it either way.
Ollie McKenzie entered the fray with 10min. remaining for left-back Jamie Dodd and added attacking impetus, nearly becoming a hero with the second of a pair of glorious late GFC chances.
The first on 82min. saw Dyer’s flighted cross find the advancing Jacques Isabelle at the far post, but his header back across goal somehow failed to find the far corner.
And in the sixth minute of stoppage time, Black’s through ball put McKenzie in to win it, but he was superbly denied by a great last-ditch defensive tackle.
GFC made their final switch with Jason Winch replacing the limping Loaring in the dying seconds of a bizarre 11min. of injury time added on by referee Jason Connolly.
Even though Colliers Wood players were dropping with cramp, the length still seemed strange, although it was not enough to grab the winner.
But with extra-time now officially started, GFC did not take long for the breakthrough to come, Heaume getting the vital first goal in the third minute of the extra 30.
Dyer’s near post corner was met by the well-timed angled run of Heaume, whose downwards header gave Burnett no chance as it found his near bottom corner.
The joy was evident and it also opened up the game finally, as Colliers Wood threw bodies forward immediately in the hope of an equaliser.
And had it not been for the heroics of Tardif, they would have found it with 100min. now on the clock, making his second save in a week that can truly be described as world-class.
Cornell McKoy’s cross found Hughes unmarked and his emphatic header looked certain to make it 1-1, but Tardif’s incredible reaction palmed the ball away.
That would be as close as Colliers Wood came to scoring in extra-time, with Winch and Dyer both firing wide with opportunities to seal the Lions’ victory.
Although controlling the game well after the midway restart, time was seemingly ticking slowly and Winch squandered another chance to seal it, firing over from Dyer’s cross.
In these late stages, Rihoy looked exceptional as his side’s target man and holding the ball up, a role he is not often renowned for. But he got his reward by playing a decisive role to seal the match.
With one minute remaining, his exquisite reverse ball set Winch away and after he went around Burnett, the keeper could not help but send him sprawling.
Connolly only cautioned Burnett, when a red card seemed inevitable, but the penalty had been awarded and Heaume had the chance to seal it.
He obliged, finding the bottom corner and beating Burnett, who had gone the right way.
Connolly blew for time soon after and Sam Cochrane could lift his second piece of silverware in a week, ending a fairytale first year for his Green Lions.