Green Lions outplayed
Wednesday 27th February 2013, 5:00PM GMT.
Egham Town 3, Guernsey FC 1
WITH their worsening fixture crisis and gripping FA Vase run, this promotion hunt for Guernsey FC was never going to be done the easy way.
But their task of securing CCL Premier Division glory at the first attempt has suddenly gained another level of difficulty after a dreadful night for the Green Lions at the Runnymede Stadium.
Had they beaten their biggest rivals in this blockbuster clash, they would have been odds-on favourites ahead of the hectic spring period, but they chose the most inopportune moment to produce their worst performance since their inception.
Put quite simply, they were outplayed, outclassed, outmuscled and outworked by an excellent home ‘Sarnies’ side who on many other days would have won by double, possibly even triple, the 3-1 margin they did finally secure.
It was as one-sided a match as the visiting Lions fans could ever have feared and for all that the hosts shone, the visitors did not help themselves with their own inept performance.
Summing it up as a bad day at the office is an understatement, as their usual free-flowing and confident brand of football went missing, as they barely strung a decent move of note together.
The pattern for the evening was set in only the second minute of the game, as Luke Muldowney’s free-kick in from the left found Jamie Read all alone 10 yards out and the home centre-forward clinically guided his header past Paul de Garis.
It was a nightmare start for GFC and could have got even worse but referee Andrew Connor said that de Garis’ felling of Reis Stanislavs was not a penalty offence, when a spot kick looked the only option.
Stainslavs would go over de Garis again soon after, but this time Connor’s decision to wave away the Egham protests looked a tad more justified, as the striker went down cheaply.
But for all of their dominance in the early stages, Egham were stung by a GFC counter-attack on 7min., as their first meaningful foray forward saw the brilliance of Ross Allen level it.
Matt Loaring slid Allen in down the right flank and after outrunning his marker, he cut back inside onto his left foot and magnificently slotted across home keeper Paul Borg into the far top corner.
It was the sole moment of magic from the visitors and continued Allen’s rich vein of form, but that was a brief respite from the siege that was enveloping at the other end, resembling the Alamo.
The excellent Tommy Hedges fired inches wide of the far post, Read did likewise on the other side and Kemo Maphela fluffed a header, to go on top of Stanislavs’ second big penalty shout.
With GFC just about surviving that spell somehow intact, they had the luckiest break of the lot on 16min., when Stanislav this time beat de Garis, but his one-on-one effort came back off the inside of the post.
Still the chances came and went for an Egham side who already could have been out of sight and with three points in the bag, before they finally got their just rewards on 33min.
A series of corners were barely kept out by the Lions, but when the ball made it out to Craig, his curled low ball from 20 yards found its way through everybody without a touch, nestling in de Garis’ far corner to make it 2-1.
That briefly got something out of GFC, who did look more threatening up until half-time, the best chance seeing Borg superbly turn away Dave Rihoy’s expertly-controlled half-volley, while Allen was denied by Borg in another breakaway moment.
However, it was still a relief for GFC to get to the break just the single goal behind and coach Tony Vance did some tinkering, bringing on Glyn Dyer for Nigel Hutton and changing his formation from 4-4-2 back to his preferred 4-3-3.
But that did not bring about the change GFC needed and although they did more defensively as the game wore on, they just could not get any grip on the game in midfield or maintain possession for even a few seconds.
While the chances thankfully dried up at de Garis’ end, the only moment of note at the other end was Borg coming out on the hour mark to deny Dom Heaume sliding past him.
Although that would have been a travesty for the home side if the equaliser had come, they were fortunate to finish the match with 11 men on the field, as a tetchy encounter threatened to get ugly in the latter stages.
Stanislavs really should have picked up a second yellow card and received his marching orders when he brought down a breakaway Kieran Mahon run, but Connor made the latest in a number of poor decisions by letting him off.
Mahon was also the victim of a shocking late tackle by substitute Patrick Craig that earned only a caution, one of eight yellows dished out on the night.
But although Connor’s performance was woeful, it was no worse than GFC’s and should not detract from the fact that Egham were every bit as dominant in the second 45 minutes as they had been in those preceding it.
They finally got the third goal their efforts deserved and with it sealed it once and for all a minute into stoppage time, Brendan Matthews breaking the offside trap and sliding past de Garis, beating Sam Cochrane’s desperate slide at the back post.
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