Date Posted: 09/02/2020
By Connor Godfray, sports journalist student, Southampton Solent University
Guernsey’s four-game unbeaten streak came to an end on Saturday as Chichester City beat a below-par Guernsey team at Footes Lane.
Goals from Kaleem Haitham, Gicu Iordache and Josh Clack gave Chi the win in a match which saw little clear-cut goalmouth action throughout and left the 916 spectating desiring more from their team. Despite being second best throughout, the Green Lions will be disappointed that they could have hung on at 0-0 much longer had they not gifted the visitors their first two goals.
Both teams came into the match in good form, with the home team winning three of the last four games, and the game looked finely poised to be a balanced occasion with either side having a good chance of taking all three points.
The game started well for the hosts, they showed both desire and energy in the first 10 minutes and the fans were shown the qualities that have allowed the team to compete in midtable, far away from the dreaded relegation zone.
This energy did not continue however, and the game began to level out after the enthusiastic start.
Both teams began to create chances and trouble each other’s defences, with the game seemingly being balanced.
Harry Tobin's rising drive - after good work from Robbie Legg, Ross Allen and Liam Mahon - was kept out by Steven Mowthorpe, with Callum Stanton Keeping out a similar effort from Iordache at the other end. Allen was also denied from close range as he spun and shot following a determined charge down the right flank from Frank Tobin.
Mahon also drew a save from Mowthorpe with a low shot from outside the box, while Allen was a whisker away from making contact as Loaring fizzed in a low cross after Legg had turned Tom Strawbridge's clearance into a useful pass.
However, it was the yellow jerseys of Chichester that broke the deadlock.
Their first goal came from Kaleem Haitham, he pounced on a mix up at the back to confidently slot the ball past goalkeeper Callum Stanton right before half-time. He was stood beyond the defence.
The 43rd-minute goal was originally ruled out for offside by the assistant, who thought that the ball had been played by a Chi pass in order for Haitham to be in the goalscoring position. However, this decision was overturned by the referee, who spotted that the backpass had come from Loaring.
Harry Tobin collected Allen's flick-on early in the second half, benefitting from two Chichester players colliding, and drove into the box but could only shoot straight at Mowthorpe, he collected the rebound and tried to tee up a team-mate for a tap-in, but the ball was cleared off the line.
This was a key moment as the second goal came just four minutes later and was equally as disappointing for the home team as the first.
As the Green Lions tried to build from deep, Iordache intercepted Tom De La Mare's square pass and Chichester and had space to attack the area, driving forward and leathering it into the far corner.
It now looked difficult a real uphill task for the home team to get back in the game and salvage any points. There was still the odd chance though, with Robbie legg threatening twice and substitute Seb Skillen firing just over from Mahon's pulled-back corner.
Strawbridge made a brilliant block on 75 minutes to deny Matt Axell the third, sliding in at the near post after Stanton had initially done well to prevent the shot earlier. The Guernsey stopper also stood his ground in a one-on-one against Clack, who had timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap.
The third and final goal came on the 90 minute mark courtesy of Clark compounded a bad afternoon for the Green Lions. Iordache was given too much space and time to slot Clack in, and the latter tucked the ball neatly into the far corner. He could even have had another in stoppage-time, but drove his shot wide.
After playing three games in the last seven days, it is not unrealistic to speculate that after this physically draining run of games, the players might not be 100%.
The afternoon did contain some positives though - Thomas Dodds made his first start after a lengthy injury, there was impressive turn out of more than 900 fans, and Will Fazakerley came off the bench to make his 50th appearance from the club. His impact was positive, firing just over the bar from range and later denied at the end of a powerful run.
Despite the result, the play-offs are not out of sight. Guernsey sit only eight points of the play-off places, with plenty of games left to play.
The Green Lions face Hythe away in their next game, and the players know that a better performance is need up with the teams ahead of them in the league.
GFC dropped to eighth in Isthmian South East with Saturday's other results as follows: Cray Valley PM 2-0 Phoenix Sports, Faversham Town 1-2 Burgess Hill Town, Hastings United 0-3 Ashford United, Haywards Heath Town 0-2 Herne Bay, Sevenoaks Town 0-2 Whyteleafe, Three Bridges 1-2 East Grinstead Town, VCD Athletic 2-2 Hythe Town, Whitehawk 1-0 Sittingbourne, Whitstable Town 1-1 Ramsgate.
Guernsey: 1 Callum Stanton, 2 Frank Tobin (12 Keanu Marsh 56'), 3 Jamie Dodd (c), 4 Harry Tobin, 5 Tom Strawbridge, 6 Tom De La Mare (16 Seb Skillen 59'), 7 Liam Mahon, 8 Thomas Dodds (17 Will Fazakerley 49'), 9 Robbie Legg, 10 Ross Allen, 11, Matt Loaring. Not used: 14 Carlos Canha, 15 Tyler McKane.
Booked: F Tobin, H Tobin, Strawbridge.
Chichester City: 1, Steven Mowthorpe, 2 Ryan Davidson, 3 Ben Pashley, 5 Connor Cody, 6 Corey Heath (16 Ryan Peake 75'), 7 Josh Clack, 17 Matt Axell, 8 Jamie Horncastle, 9 Gicu Iordache, 10 Lloyd Rowlett (12 Emmett Dunn 90), 11 Kaleem Haitham (4 Rory Biggs 86'). Not used: 14 Robert Hutchings, 15 Scott Jones.
Goals: Haitham 43'; Iordache 52'; Clack 90'. Booked: Haitham.
Highlights and the full 90-minute playback are available to view now on GFCTV.