Date Posted: 14/04/2019
Guernsey produced one of their strongest performances of the season but could not quite find the winner they deserved to give them breathing space over Greenwich Borough.
Tony Vance has said that his side are yet to become a ’90-minute’ team, but he certainly got a 90-minute performance on Sunday. Callum Stanton only had two meaningful saves to make and it was only Oliver Webber saving Will Fazakerley’s late penalty and goalbound header in the dying stages that prevented the Green Lions moving three points clear.
GFC came close to a winning goal on several other occasions, too, as they played with zip and with purpose. While it is still ever-so-tight at the bottom of Bostik South East, this display will hopefully be a stepping stone to a strong finish to the season.
The game was overshadowed in the closing stages as visiting midfielder Tony Robinson and GFC substitute Keanu Marsh collided when innocuously jumping for the ball. The game was halted for well in excess of 20 minutes as an ambulance came onto the pitch to treat the injured Greenwich player, who was taken to hospital – hopefully only as a precaution.
But back to the action – GFC controlled the game throughout in front of their biggest crowd of the season at over 1,000, although it took nearly a quarter of an hour for the first meaningful chance as Carlos Canha skewed wide of the near post from the angle after Guernsey had won the ball back in midfield and De La Mare had teed up Rihoy to play in the Madeiran.
Stanton stood firm two minutes later to block with his legs after Greenwich worked the ball into the box and Miquel Scarlett shot from the angle, and Tom De La Mare lifted over from distance shortly afterwards.
There was the odd warning sign, with a Ryan Elliott-King shot cannoning off the heels of Jamie Dodd and away after GFC had surrendered possession poorly in midfield.
Luke Leppard’s rising drive also flew wide of Stanton’s left-hand post, and just before the half-hour, Charlton Gauvain sent a curler wide from outside the box.
Guernsey’s opener on 32 minutes was a result of a high press and saw three of their senior players combine. Kieran Mahon’s industry forced a Greenwich defender into a scuffed clearance that was seized upon by Matt Loaring. He headed for the left byline and dinked in a cross towards the near post, where Rihoy was waiting to nod it into the net via a deflection off Conrad Lee.
Toyosi Olusanya made an acrobatic attempt to beat Stanton with a bicycle kick but was nowhere near the target, and a deflection on Theo Fairweather-Robinson’s effort took the ball comfortably into the Guernsey stopper’s arms before the break.
The suckerpunch for GFC came six minutes into the second half. King-Elliott skipped past Frank Tobin, who was trying to avoid bringing him town, but drew the trip from Rihoy on the byline. Cannons top scorer Teshuane Tyreece-Williams dispatched the resulting penalty past Stanton to level things up.
After that, save for one strong stop from Stanton as King-Elliott belted the ball at the top corner from the edge of area, and half-chance deep into stoppage-time which Jamie Stuart dragged wide, it was all Guernsey.
Dave Rihoy dragged wide from the edge of the area with his left foot after a good move down the left between De La Mare, Kieran Mahon and Matt Loaring saw the latter tee him up on the edge of the box, and Kieran Mahon lifted a bouncing ball over after he met a flick-on into the area.
Rihoy then flicked a delightful ball round the corner for Liam Mahon on the left, who in turn found his brother Kieran. Rihoy had continued his run and was slipped in by the older brother, but could only fire his low shot straight at Webber, but almost got a second bite as Greenwich made a hash of the clearance.
All three of Tony Vance’s subs made a positive impact on the game. Fazakerley won his flick-ons and Seb Skillen was as the heart of most of GFC’s best work. The pair combined on a corner on 68 minutes as Fazakerley rose highest to nod the ball down for his team-mate to shoot on the turn, with the ball flashing narrowly wide of the far post.
A minute later, Canha snaked into the area only to find a defender in the way of his low shot. Just under 10 minutes later, Rihoy cleared the ball after a pulled-back corner bounced awkwardly just before he hit it.
Guernsey’s golden chance to win it arrived on 85 minutes as substitute Keanu Marsh charged down a clearance, drove into the area and was sent sprawling. The assistant flagged for the penalty and with normal taker Matt Loaring off the pitch, Fazakerley won the argument with Canha as to who would assume responsibility. Unfortunately, Webber got down to his right to make the block. Canha seized on the rebound but dragged the ball wide from close range.
The lengthy stoppage also meant a significant chunk added onto the end of the game and the clock reached the 116th minute – nearly a whole extra-time’s worth after the 90 – when the Green Lions had one more big chance to nick a winner. Canha did well to work space for a cross from the right and Fazakerley leapt at full stretch to meet it. His downward header was goalbound but Webber got down to make the block to his left. Rihoy hesitated in going for the rebound and the chance of victory was gone.
The draw was probably worse for the visitors than for the Sarnians, who have that precious game in hand and hopefully a renewed sense of pride following this performance.
Everyone at Guernsey FC sends their best wishes to Tony Robinson. We hope the ambulance was purely precautionary and he makes a speedy recovery.
With Faversham Town beating Three Bridges, the five-point gaps meant it is almost certainly a straight shoot-out with Greenwich until the end of the season.
The rest of the weekend’s Bostik South East results were as follows: Cray Wanderers 3-1 Ashford United (CRAY WANDERERS PROMOTED AS CHAMPIONS), Faversham Town 3-0 Three Bridges, Hastings United 1-1 Hythe Town, Haywards Heath Town 0-1 Sevenoaks Town, Herne Bay 2-3 Horsham, VCD Athletic 5-4 East Grinstead Town, Whitstable Town 2-1 Phoenix Sports, Whyteleafe 3-0 Sittingbourne.
Guernsey: Callum Stanton, Tom De La Mare, Jamie Dodd (c), Thomas Dodds, Frank Tobin, Kieran Mahon, Dave Rihoy, Liam Mahon (Keanu Marsh 79’), Charlton Gauvain (Seb Skillen 60’), Carlos Canha, Matt Loaring (Will Fazakerley 65’). Not used: Jordan Kelly, Glyn Dyer.
Goal: Rihoy 32’. Booked: Marsh, Skillen.
Greenwich Borough: Oliver Webber, Miquel Scarlett, Conrad Lee, Luke Leppard, Geoffrey Okonkwo, Jamie Stuart, Teshuane Tyreece-Walters, Ryan King-Elliott, Toyosi Olusanya (Kayne Roberts HT), Theo Fairweather-Johnson (Bertie Valler 74’), Tony Robinson (Reece Cave 90+22’).
Goal: Tyreece-Walters (pen 51’). Booked: Fairweather-Johnson, Roberts.
Highlights will be uploaded to GFCTV, while the full 90-minute playback is available now.