Date Posted: 12/08/2017
Guernsey started their Bostik South season in style with an entertaining opening day 4-2 victory over East Grinstead Town.
Looking stylish in their smart new home kit, braces from Ross Allen and Dave Rihoy - the former before the break, the latter in the second half - secured a well-earned three points for the Green Lions on the first occasion they started their Isthmian South season at Footes Lane.
Another double from the visitors - from forward Marcus Elliott - saw the Sarnians fall behind early and then be pegged back just before half-time, which was something of an achilles heel last season, but the GFC always looked good going forward and deserved the win.
Tony Vance had the unenviable task of leaving three players out when the teamsheets were handed in, and sprung one or two surprises with his line-up with last season's multi-award winner Thomas Dodds and the experience Dom Heaume named on the bench. Matt Loaring started alongside Allen in attack, while Harry Tobin was selected at left wing-back made an eye-catching debut. Jamie Dodd also started on his return to the squad as part of an experienced centre-half-trio with Sam Cochrane and Simon Geall. Josh Addison got the nod in goal.
The ball was in the net for the first goal of the season before Guernsey had even had time to settle. Tariq Straker swung a ball in from the left wing that evaded all of GFC's defensive personnel. Marcus Elliott brought it down and hit a low shot from the centre of the area that hit the post and rebounded into the far corner.
It was a setback, but it didn't alter Guernsey's mentality and they were on the attack just three minutes later when Matt Loaring was brought down for a free-kick in a dangerous position. Allen's initial effort was disappointing as it struck the wall. But the ball looped up in the air and everyone stood and watched as Allen reacted quickest to lash a volley back towards goal, where it nestled in the far corner.
The goal lifted the hosts and the looked dangerous every time they attacked. Loaring tricked his way through the defence and slotted past Oshane Brown, but a combination of the far post and a covering defender just about kept the ball out. Five minutes later, Allen and Loaring combined well again to set-up Rihoy via an inch-perfect through ball, whose low shot was blocked by the Wasps stopper.
Dean Brown screwed wide from the edge of the box after a misplaced header from Geall and Allen fired narrowly high and wide on the turn in an otherwise relatively quiet spell, but Allen brought the game to life again on 37 minutes. Loaring got on the end of Craig Young's slotted pass down the right, stretching just enough to keep it in play on the byline. Rihoy's pullback was deflected but Allen got there ahead of his man to control the ball, steady himself and fire home at the near post.
Tobin came close to a debut goal on 43 minutes after being found by Tom De La Mare on the counter. His low shot almost crept in the near post but Brown got down quickly to push it wide.
Addison's first real save of the half came a minute later as East Grinstead forced their way into the box. The ball fell for Brown but Addison stuck out a leg to block well from close range.
Guernsey couldn't keep their opponents out any longer, though, and were undone by a short-corner routine in the last minute of the half. The ball came to Elliott all on his own on the edge of the area and he fired through a crown of bodies into the far corner, where it hit the net before Addison had even had chance to see it.
It was a blow to be pegged back so close the break but Vance's side were undeterred as they came out strongly in the second half. Keanu Marsh burst forward to meet Tobin's cross, but was on his way back down from his jump as he met the ball with his head and sent it over.
That danger was a sign of things to come, though, as the Green Lions regained the lead of a second time on 54 minutes. Loaring picked out the run of Allen on the left with a superb pass. The forward cut back on his right foot and sent in a low cross to the six yard box, where Rihoy was waiting to help it home.
De La Mare tried his luck from distance just before the hour but saw his low effort go narrowly wide, and the Wasps were almost level out of the blue moments later as Dan Mobsby let fly from all of 30 yards. Addison could only watch as the ball cracked the top of the bar.
Addison was more confident 10 minutes later as he got down well to hold a low free-kick from Michael Wilson, with substitute Thomas Dodds picking out Allen as the Green Lions went on the counter. The further he ran with the ball, the more he was forced wide. Rather than pull out his trademark turn onto his right foot, Allen opted to shoot low with his left but hit the side netting.
East Grinstead barely troubled Guernsey further, with Elliott's wide header all they had to show for the efforts to get an equaliser - and Rihoy sealed the win in stoppage time. Young's interception fell for the number seven, who played a neat one-two with substitute Charlton Gauvain before tucking the ball past Brown into the far corner.
That was the last of the meaningful action and Guernsey could reflect on an excellent afternoon's work as they posted their first win at Footes Lane since before Christmas 2016.
The rest of the Bostik South results were as follows: Ashford United 0-1 Carshalton Athletic, Chipstead 1-2 Sittingbourne, Cray Wanderers 2-2 Thamesmead Town, Greenwich Borough 1-1 Whyteleafe, Hastings United 2-1 Corinthian-Casuals, Herne Bay 0-1 Lewes, Hythe Town 1-2 Walton Casuals, Molesey 2-1 Horsham, Ramsgate 1-3 Phoenix Sports, Shoreham 0-4 South Park, VCD Athletic 0-5 Faversham Town.
Guernsey: Josh Addison, Simon Geall (c), Jamie Dodd, Sam Cochrane, Harry Tobin, Tom De La Mare, Dave Rihoy, Keanu Marsh (Thomas Dodds 61'), Craig Young, Ross Allen (Charlton Gauvain 73'), Matt Loaring (Dominic Heaume 68'). Not used: Seb Skillen, Angus Mackay.
Goals: Allen 7', 37'; Rihoy 54', 90+2'.
East Grinstead Town: Oshane Brown, Leo Mazzone (Allan Tait 73'), Callum Wilson, Dan Mobsby, Drew Cooney (c) (Jahmahl King 63'), Will Thomas, Will Hoare, Michael Wilson, Dean Brown, Marcus Elliott (Luke Saggers 87'), Tariq Straker. Not used: Dan Hogan, Steve Sargent.
Goals: Elliott 4', 45'.
Booked: M Wilson.
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