Video – Allen’s second-half strike steals the points for GFC
Monday 18th March 2013, 5:00PM GMT.
Highlights courtesy of GFCTV in partnership with kings.gg
Guernsey FC 1, South Park 0
IF PROMOTION is to be achieved by Guernsey FC against all the odds and fixture problems this season, more Footes Lane afternoons like this could well do the trick.
Because despite being severely below-par and comfortably second-best for much of the afternoon to an excellent South Park side, the Green Lions just about ground out three vital points.
Their climb up the league table still has a long way and some chaotic weekends to go.
But for starters, this result will do just fine against a side who can still count themselves as promotion outsiders.
But for the brilliance of GFC keeper Chris Tardif, the Sparks’ own aspirations would have been seriously enhanced, as they will still be asking themselves how come they did not leave Guernsey with a win.
In the end, it will be Ross Allen’s goal on 74min. that gains the plaudits, one of the most vital yet of his 98, but it was Tardif who was unquestionably the home hero.
He made a series of vital stops that in the end was close to double figures, with a number of them in the top-class bracket, as he bailed out his lethargic teammates.
At times in the first half, it was a one-man rearguard, as GFC regularly gave the ball away in dangerous areas and were a shadow of the team that was quite brilliant a week ago in the FA Vase.
They were looking vulnerable on the counter-attack every time and had Chris Smith had his shooting boots slightly more aligned, the game could have been out of sight by the interval.
As early as the fourth minute the visiting onslaught started, with Smith heading poorly straight at Tardif from Jack Stafford’s cross, after being left all alone 10 yards out.
It was the same outcome again on 11min., this time Tardif’s superb sprawling save putting a rising Smith effort over the bar after South Park had played straight through GFC’s spine.
That was an all-too-regular occurrence although, in fairness to the GFC defence, they were being left outnumbered on the break, with the Lions’ midfield three more culpable.
Smith was also finding ample space down the left, with GFC’s centre-back pairing of Sam Cochrane and Jamie Dodd doing little wrong, the latter with another excellent display.
On the rare occasions that the Lions were finding the feet of their front three, they were looking dangerous, with Glyn Dyer particularly lively, but without any end product.
Allen did nearly produce a moment of individual magic when he turned Nathan Ward inside-out, not for the last time, but dragged wide of James Wastell’s far post.
But for all the big names on show for the hosts, it was Smith continuing to take centre stage, as he had three openings within seconds of one another on 28min.
He had only just fired wide of Tardif’s near post when lax GFC possession presented another chance, this time referee Jon Creswell adjudging Cochrane to have been fouled, moments before Smith was about to pull the trigger.
After another sloppy GFC mistake, Smith did finally test Tardif again, this time the home number one using his fingertips to push a low effort around the post.
That should have been the latest wake-up call for the greens, but just before half-time, Geall’s slight touch was vital in denying Smith a tap-in from Kieran Lavery’s cross, before Karl Parker shot straight at Tardif from the resulting corner.
It could only get better for GFC after the break and credit to the promotion-chasing home side, it did, although it took some time for that improvement to materialise.
Kieran Mahon was quickly introduced into the action in place of Scott Bradford, while Matt Loaring soon joined him to add another attacking threat, left-back Jacques Isabelle making way.
That saw coach Tony Vance push Dodd across to left-back and he shone from thereon in, while Loaring also looked threatening whenever he got on the ball.
However, the clear-cut chances still didn’t come and another bullet was dodged on 71min., Smith squandering his best chance of the lot, hitting the outside of Tardif’s post from close range.
All those wasted opportunities always had the chance to come back and haunt the Sparks, which duly happened moments later, when GFC’s best move of the match resulted in the winner.
After Loaring was fouled on the left touchline, quick thinking by Alex Le Prevost saw him play Dodd down the line when everyone was expecting a cross.
Dodd delivered a cracking ball that went all the way to the back post to Dave Rihoy, whose cross-cum-shot fired across goal was turned in from all of a couple of yards by Allen.
It was a proper poacher’s goal, up there with the GFC No. 10’s most important, and was the catalyst for the revitalised Lions to have their best spell of the match.
They could have added to that and sealed the three points, as they finally showed the 1,117 fans what they could do from an attacking sense.
South Park were still keeping them honest, though, with Smith adding to his incredible list of missed chances, shooting straight at Tardif after the build-up work from Stafford and Parker demanded better.
On 83min., the best spell of the lot for the visitors came and went, a goalmouth scramble seeing a number of desperate but impressive defensive blocks, ending with Tardif magnificently denying Dale Burgess.
That was South Park’s last stand and the match should have been sewn up at the other end, as GFC made the most of the extra space being offered to them.
Nigel Hutton looked dangerous in his cameo from the bench and his magnificent injury-time turn and surging run played in Allen, who was denied expertly by the legs of Wastell.
Hutton also had a rising effort of his own blocked in the closing stages, which included a lengthy but fully justified 6min. of added time.
Creswell was finally able to blow for full-time and signify a win that, although somewhat undeserved, proves that Guernsey FC have developed a winning mentality that could prove decisive in the coming weeks.
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