Guernsey FC produce one of their finest displays
Saturday 24th August 2013, 3:03PM BST.
Video supplied by Guernsey FC in association with kingslife.gg
Crawley Down Gatwick 1, Guernsey FC 1
FOR all the great wins that this Guernsey FC team have recorded in recent times, it is a draw that could now well hold its own as one of the finest performances in their short history.
Going into this game, many would have predicted a reverse for the Green Lions more humbling than any they have ever experienced, considering the pedigree of their Crawley Down Gatwick opponents.
Top of the Ryman Division One South, which has already been shown to be a significant step up even in the early part of this season, they have by their own programme’s admission a team well averse to football several steps higher.
Throw in the indifferent form so far of GFC and you had a situation that could quickly have got out of the hands of this young and ever-improving GFC side.
But this was the finest league performance Tony Vance’s men have ever produced – now in 101 attempts – particularly in the first half, when they were absolutely magnificent and dominated in tough conditions.
Make no mistake, Crawley Down were everything that was expected: an exceptionally strong side that will surely be up there challenging for honours at the end of the campaign.
And their second half efforts proved their talents.
However, they can count their blessings that they were just the single goal behind at the half-time interval, that coming from Dom Heaume for the visitors after just 11 minutes.
In reality, those very early exchanges had been pretty even, as Crawley Down threatened on a couple of occasions, particularly down their left-hand side, while the Lions were dangerous on the counter-attack.
It was through that particular avenue that Heaume rounded off a fine move.
Glyn Dyer’s brilliant raking cross-field angled ball set Marc McGrath away down the right perfectly and, with acres of space to work with, he kept his composure to pull across for Heaume to finish off from close range.
Heaume could have made it two just seconds later when Dyer picked him out with a pinpoint cross, but he steered a free header comfortably wide.
Although that did not see the net bulge, the lead saw GFC settle down and grow in confidence as they began to play the best football they possibly ever have in exhilarating style.
On a perfect playing surface that coped well with the deluge it would receive later on, the one and two-touch movement was a sight to behold, played with pace, vibrancy, slickness and attacking purpose.
They were helped no end by another fine performance in the engine room by young Tom de la Mare, who adds so much to this team, as well as Scott Bougourd and the once-again brilliant Matt Loaring.
Any rare attacks from the hosts were snaffled by Alex Le Prevost and Sam Cochrane at centre-back, while Angus Mackay was the best player on the pitch at right-back, including starting several moves from that position.
All three, as well as left-back Jamie Dodd, also importantly kept the ball on the floor and allowed their midfielders to play.
There was the odd scare, mainly from a couple of dangerous home free-kicks on the edge of the area that were squandered, but the visitors were in complete control by the halfway point.
Vance’s one disappointment may have been not having more goals to show for their efforts, but even when the heavens opened immediately at the start of the second half, they continued to dominate.
McGrath had a glorious chance to double it with the first attack of the half, before Crawley Down grew back into it as time approached the hour mark, the exceptional Ashley Robinson flashing wide.
Saying that, their equaliser was still harsh on GFC when it came on 61min.
Robinson broke through and, after keeping his footing to beat a defender and keeper Chris Tardif, he dinked the ball superbly into the far corner.
By now, it was a cracking game to watch regardless of your allegiance and for the remainder, both teams went at each other back-and-fort in a manner that sets things up perfectly for Saturday’s rematch in the FA Cup.
Crawley Down had the better chances in the late stages, although Loaring came close for GFC, with Tardif the hero with a save of breathtaking proportions on 76min.
Robinson picked out the unmarked Chris Breach from a free-kick and his bullet header looked certain to be a goal, but with the ball already looking past him, Tardif’s astonishing reaction block saved the day.
He was at it again when Liam Wright broke the offside trap, bore down on goal, tried to go around the visiting number one, but was left frustrated with the keeper’s timing and then brilliant block for a corner.
Wright had one final chance to win it, with the last attack of the game deep into stoppage time, but he put Robinson’s pass miles over the bar from close range when, really, he should have buried it.
But that would have been grossly unfair on GFC who, after getting a fair share of the spoils, proved they can mix it with anybody at this level and be one of the dark horses of this league.
Crawley Down Gatwick: Thorp, Hills (Cooper 73), Holloway, Breach, Farrell, Johnson, Holness, Bold (Wormull 77), Wright, Eason (Lewis 28), Robinson.
Guernsey FC: Tardif, Mackay, Cochrane, Le Prevost, Dodd, de la Mare, Bougourd (Smith 80), Loaring, Dyer, Heaume, McGrath (Hutton 66).