Guernsey FC back to winning ways
Wednesday 21st August 2013, 5:00PM BST.
Video supplied by Guernsey FC in association with kingslife.gg
Corinthian Casuals 1, Guernsey FC 2
ON A night marking a historic milestone for Guernsey FC, they chose the occasion to produce one of their best and most satisfying performances to date against one of the great non-league names.
They are now 100 games into an ever-growing story, but for this pleasant evening in south-west London, it was time to reflect on three points that, to coin an old phrase, was won with kids.
Five teenagers in the match-day squad, with three of them starting, surely marked Tony Vance’s youngest ever senior team and how they delivered on an exciting night’s action in a match that was full of entertainment.
Tom de la Mare slotted in the middle of the park like a natural and was superb in a controlled first-half display, without many clear-cut chances, while Paris Pereira also did well in his attacking role on his first start for the club.
The equally youthful James Hamon was faultless between the sticks once again and is growing in confidence, although those with the more experienced heads also shone against a decent Corinthians side who offered attacking threat.
Tom Strawbridge was magnificent at the heart of defence alongside the equally impressive Angus Mackay and that new partnership ensured that Saturday’s humiliating home reverse was quickly removed from the system.
Once again, Matt Loaring was brilliant in what was an unfamiliar deeper role for the youngster and his work-rate was immense, while he also added another attacking threat behind Pereira, Nigel Hutton and Marc McGrath.
It would be McGrath who later grabbed the winner in stunning style by doubling Hutton’s tap-in, which was enough to survive a late goal and charge from the hosts, but it was tighter in the early stages.
In truth, GFC never looked in much real danger bar Ellis Wilson-Joseph’s great squandered chance and fought to get on top of the encounter, which was played on a good surface in front of a vocal crowd.
Wilson-Joseph shot straight at Hamon after being set up perfectly at around the midway point of the half and that was the only opportunity until GFC opened the scoring just before half-time on 41min.
They had threatened on numerous occasions up to that point, but without really breaching a stubborn home defence, but that all changed with Jamie Dodd’s quick-thinking.
He floated a free-kick swiftly from the halfway line over the home defence and put in McGrath, whose first-time swivelled left-footed effort across goal drew a parried stop from keeper Danny Bracken, only as far as Hutton.
From a few yards out, he could not and did not miss for a goal that gave GFC’s successful half a tremendous conclusion.
If McGrath was denied his second goal of the campaign on that occasion, he did not have to wait long to put it right, as he came up with a moment of brilliance after the restart, with 53min. on the clock.
Pereira’s perseverance down the left saw him pull across to McGrath, but it was no more than half a chance when, side-on to goal, he scooped his foot under the ball without a first touch and found the far corner by looping Bracken in style.
It should have been the clincher, but, within minutes, Corinthians had reduced the deficit with a classy goal of their own, Jamie Byatt’s header making the most of left-back Dave Hodges’ pinpoint cross on the run.
That led to a period of strength for Corinthians, who pushed hard but found little way past a solid back-line and even looked like getting caught on the break themselves for number three.
Involved in those counter-attacks were 16-year-old Smith, who replaced Pereira and looked equally at home in this environment, having a shot cleared off the line after showing composure to beat Bracken.
Things threatened to get heated as McGrath preceded Byatt into the referee’s notebook and the home striker was fortunate to escape a second yellow when he clashed with Mackay.
Although gilt-edged one-on-one chances were there to kill the game at the death through both Hutton and McGrath, GFC survived a massive scare when first the woodwork was rattled and then Hamon made a great point-blank save with the seconds ticking by.
Had those gone in, it would have been grossly unfair on a superb GFC performance and, everything considered, it will go down as one of their most significant wins in quite some time.
On the evidence of a side with an average age of 22 and with big names to return, coping at this new higher Ryman level has proven to be right within this Lions’ side’s grasp.
Corinthian Casuals: Bracken, Williams, Dudley, Hicks, Hodges, Spencer (Bowra 36), Turley, Green, Wilson-Joseph (Ofori 78), Byatt, Wilgoss (Nsubuga 65).
Guernsey FC: Hamon, Isabelle (Martin 89), Strawbridge, Mackay, Dodd, de la Mare (E. Le Prevost 78), Heaume, Loaring, Pereira (Smith 71), Hutton, McGrath.
Referee: P. Howard.