Date Posted: 02/12/2018
Guernsey could count themselves unfortunate not to emerge from Saturday’s clash against Hythe Town with a point.
Quality and cutting edge in the final third proved the difference as the high-flying visitors left Footes Lane with the spoils, but the Green Lions once again gave as good as they got against one of the strongest teams in the division.
There was an element of luck about the second goal for Hythe, too, and as the Sarnians begin their festive schedule in a campaign where they are looking to ‘micro-manage’ their season, they can take confidence into the rest of the month.
Guernsey showed their intent to take the game to their opponents early on as Frank Tobin fired off-target from distance but the hosts were pegged back early on thanks to a piece of individual brilliance.
Zak Ansah was singled out as the danger man before the game – the striker having already bagged 22 goals this term – and he stepped up again as he was teed up from a free-kick routine 25 yards out, following Kieran Mahon’s trip on Jack Sammoutis, lashing the ball in just out of Callum Stanton’s reach – a brilliant finish that found the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Guernsey kept at it, though, and Charlton Gauvain’s high cross from deep was met with a glancing header from Will Fazakerley that bounced down for Ryan Nicholls to comfortably scoop up.
Stanton was called upon to block Ansah’s low shot from the angle after Nigel Neita had been gifted the ball in midfield and slipped his team-mate into the right channel, and was breathing a sigh of relief as Charlie Webster’s looping effort from distance struck the bar and bounced to safety.
Matt Loaring, marking his quarter-century for the Green Lions, was involved in two promising moments as he was first picked out on the right and cut in only to see his low effort gathered up by Nicholls, then saw his cross eventually ricochet to Charlton Gauvain, who also saw Nicholls equal to his low shot.
Ansah threatened again with a low dipper that skidded off the greasy surface only for Stanton to get down quickly and divert it wide. A minute later, Fazakerley saw a curler fly wide from the edge of the area after good work from Mahon.
Gauvain seized possession in midfield just after half an hour and drove forward but his low shot cannoned behind off the heels of a defender. The resultant corner saw Fazakerley meet Skillen’s high delivery but just clear the bar with a powerful half-volley.
Mahon’s rising drive was then thwarted by Nicholls shortly before Stanton’s smart low save denied Ansah again from outside the area.
The visiting defence had another scare as a covering defender got a vital touch to turn away Tom De La Mare’s inviting cross after he had collected a similar delivery from Carlos Canha, whom the Green Lions would lose to injury before the break.
Fazakerley wasn’t getting much luck searching for deliveries into the box and again chanced his arm from outside of the area only to see his effort deflected over. The resulting corner from Skillen was sliced back to Thomas Dodds, who wrestled his way through two players to tee up Skillen again, with the midfielder’s drive from the angle beaten away at his near post by Nicholls to protect Hythe’s lead until the break.
Luckily for Guernsey, Webster skewed his effort wide of the near post shortly after the restart after finding himself clean through.
Fazakerley found his route to goal blocked again with his shot from the edge of the area cannoning up and away off a defender, with GFC recycling the ball and Dodds crossing deep for Gauvain, whose header on the stretch bounced up into Nicholls’ grasp.
Once again showing his importance to his side on his record-breaking appearance, Jamie Dodd threw himself in the way to bravely block Jack Sammoutis’ drive.
Kyle Smith was proving a threat as Canha's replacement, and only a perfectly-timed block from Elliot Capel prevented him from driving his side level after great work from Fazakerley in the left channel.
Neita skewed off target when aiming for the far post after bursting through, while Webster saw another effort spin behind off Dodd and Stanton thwarted another dipping free-kick from Ansah.
Guernsey has dealt well with their opponents' offensive threat and looked dangerous in attack themselves, but had the sting taken out of their tails by Hythe’s second on 63 minutes.
There was an element of fortune about it, starting when Guernsey’s appeals for handball in the attacking third were ignored and the Cannons broke forward four on four. The defence did well to stop Neita’s initial effort, but the ball fell kindly for Ansah to tee up Sammoutis on the edge of the area, with the midfielder tucking his short neatly into the far corner just out of reach of Stanton’s dive.
The Sarnians were not deterred, though, and Dodd's arrowed effort narrowly cleared the far post from 30-odd yards with Nicholls beaten, and then the captain became a hero at the other end, bailing out his centre-back partner Frank Tobin – who had carelessly given the ball away in his own area – with a brilliant block on the line to deny Ansah a third for his side.
Another Gauvain header bounced into the grasp of Nicholls, and a short lull in play followed before Fazakerley’s flicked header from Dodd’s long throw narrowly missed the far post.
Stanton was Ansah’s nemesis twice more, first collecting a low shot after a lucky ricochet had brought the striker space on the edge of the area, then doing brilliantly to dive at the hitman’s feet to prevent him running onto an open goal.
To their credit, the Green Lions never gave up their search for a route back into the game and Smith was left wondering how he didn’t get on the scoresheet as he pounced on a rebound from Fazakerley’s initial shot, only to see Nicholls in the way to deny him from point-blank range.
Another flick on from Fazakerley, this time from Gauvain’s inswinging free-kick, sailed over the bar in stoppage-time as Guernsey’s late efforts proved fruitless. However, despite dropping to 14th in Bostik South East, the Green Lions can have plenty of confidence as they tackle their three remaining festive fixtures.
The division’s other weekend results were as follows: Greenwich Borough 1-4 Haywards Heath Town, Hastings United 2-3 East Grinstead Town, Herne Bay 0-3 Three Bridges, Horsham 4-0 Whitstable Town, Phoenix Sports 1-2 Ashford United, Ramsgate 1-3 Sevenoaks Town, Whyteleafe 6-0 Faversham Town.
Guernsey: Callum Stanton, Tom De La Mare, Jamie Dodd (c), Thomas Dodds, Frank Tobin, Seb Skillen (Paris Pereira 72’), Kieran Mahon, Charlton Gauvain, Will Fazakerley, Carlos Canha (Kyle Smith 45+2’). Not used: Keanu Marsh, Jordan Kelly, Ryan-Zico Black.
Hythe Town: Ryan Nicholls, Salvyn Kisitu, Elliot Capel, Charlie Webster, Nathan Daly (c), Mitchell Dickenson, Nigel Neita (Billy Lewins 90+2’), Zachari Fagan (Aziz Lyoubi 79’), Zak Ansah, Jack Sammoutis (90+4’), Kieron Campbell. Not used: Chris Kinnear, Ryan Palmer.
Goals: Ansah 9’; Sammoutis 63’. Booked: Webster.
Highlights are now available to view on GFCTV.