Date Posted: 31/08/2019
A strong performance earned Guernsey their first win of the season at Phoenix Sports at the Mayplace Ground on Saturday afternoon.
A bright start saw Tony Vance’s side lead early through Ross Allen, and it could have been more if they had been more clinical.
Callum Stanton’s penalty save very early in the second half kept the Sarnians in front - there has been at least one penalty awarded in each of Guernsey’s games this season – but Jeff Duah-Kessie’s header levelled things up on the hour.
Seb Skillen fired Guernsey back into the lead with less than 20 minutes to go and Allen’s late penalty miss did not matter as the Green Lions held on relatively comfortably.
Allen was in goalscoring mood right from the off as he took Tom Strawbridge’s pass in his stride and lobbed Steve Phillips inside three minutes, but the offside flag was off quickly to rule it out. Skillen also curled one narrowly past the top corner three minutes later.
It was a promising start and it paid off inside 10 minutes as Allen grabbed his third goal since his return. Harry Tobin collected a ball from Skillen and played it into Canha in the area. The Madeiran was not deterred by the first challenge on him and poked the ball back into the path of Allen, who thumped it into the roof of the net.
Allen was in again two minutes later from Skillen’s pass but opted for the early shot when he could have taken the ball closer to goal, and hit it straight at Phillips, who parried.
Harry Tobin’s poke at goal was nicked wide as he overlapped down the left and Will Fazakerley placed wide when played through on goal by Allen as the Green Lions continued to cut through the home back line.
Kenny Aileru lifted well over the bar from 30 yards after he had skipped past Thomas Dodds, while a free-kick led to a scramble at the far post with the ball brushing the foot of the upright and Zak Byron fired wide, but that was all the hosts could offer up in the first half.
Put through by Jamie Dodd, Skillen was denied by a strong block from a defender shortly before the interval, while Canha saw his distance effort fielded by Phillips and Allen’s shot rebounded off Ashley Probet’s leg.
It was relatively comfortable as Guernsey headed into the second half but they were nearly pegged back within two minutes of the restart as the referee deemed that Phoenix captain Danny Young was pulled down as he looked to meet a free-kick from the right.
Duah-Kessie, who had a few goals against the Green Lions to his name already, opted for a short run up and went bottom left, but Stanton got down quickly to his right to block it with his forearm – a great save.
Great build up play involved Mahon and Canha nearly saw Skillen double the lead as he stung the palms of Phillips with a powerful drive from the corner of the area. The ball looped up behind the stopper, who had to dash back to make contact with the ball a second time to stop it bouncing in.
Fazakerley will have felt he should have made it two as substitute Frank Tobin’s shot ballooned into the air off a defender’s leg. The forward was free as he jumped to beat Phillips to the ball, but it bounced wide, possibly off the fingertips of the stopper despite a goal-kick being awarded.
Stanton got down to hold as Young hooked a free-kick towards goal, but Phoenix got level on the hour as Duah-Kessie beat Stanton to a corner and headed home.
Shortly before that, Alex Scott had replaced Carlos Canha to pip Charlton Gauvain by just a few days to become Guernsey’s youngest ever player. He settled into the thick of the action quickly and was just a few inches away from scoring on his debut as a low shot from outside the area whistled wide to Phillips’ right.
Byron had a free header that luckily looped over the bar from a corner, while Allen dragged narrowly wide with the aid of a deflection after being found by Skillen 12 yards out midway through the half. Fazakerley headed over the resulting corner.
Aileru should have done better on 70 minutes as he collected Duah-Kessie’s pass and hit it wide at of the near post. That proved to be costly as Guernsey went back in front two minutes later.
Frank Tobin skipped inside from the right and played the ball perfectly into Allen’s stride for the number 10 to hit it first time. His powerful effort was beaten away at the near post but Skillen was onto it in a flash, bundling the ball in at the second attempt with Phillips having blocked his first rebound.
The Green Lions could have made the end of the game just a little more comfortable as Fazakerley was clumsily bundled over by Connor McGrady when heading away from goal after collecting Allen’s ball into the box. Allen stepped up with five minutes to go but his low effort was well kept out by Phillips who scrambled down to his left to claw it away.
Phoenix opted for the route one option in the closing stages in attempt to force an equaliser, but the Guernsey defence, aided by the returning Angus Mackay after 18 months, held firm to end a club-record run of 18 games without victory, stretching back to January 2018. It is their first victory over the South East Londoners in seven attempts.
GFC moved up to 11th in Isthmian South East, with Saturday’s other results as follows: Ashford United 2-0 Burgess Hill Town, Chichester City 2-1 Faversham Town, Hastings United 1-0 Whyteleafe, Haywards Heath Town 0-2 Three Bridges, Herne Bay 0-3 Cray Valley PM, Hythe Town 0-1 Whitehawk, Sevenoaks Town 4-0 Whitstable Town, Sittingbourne 2-2 East Grinstead Town, VCD Atheltic 2-2 Ramsgate.
Phoenix Sports: Steve Phillips, Connor McGrady, Ashley Probets, Lee Bird (Oliver Andrews 84'), Danny Young (c), Jack Barry, George Whitelock, Zak Byron (Fred Agyemang 87’), Jeff Duah-Kessie, Andrew Dythe (Ryan Andrews 57’), Kenny Aileru. Not used: James Dyer.
Goal: Duah-Kessie 60’.
Guernsey: Callum Stanton, Keanu Marsh (Frank Tobin HT), Jamie Dodd (c), Thomas Dodds, Tom Strawbridge (Angus Mackay 73’), Harry Tobin, Liam Mahon, Seb Skillen, Will Fazakerley, Ross Allen, Carlos Canha (Alex Scott 57’). Not used: Tyler McKane, Tom Jackson.
Goals: Allen 10’; Skillen 72’.
Highlights will be uploaded to GFCTV in the coming days, with the full 90-minute playback already available to subscribers.