Date Posted: 09/03/2019
Guernsey have been sucked deeper than ever into the relegation mire in Bostik South East after a poor performance saw them lose a vital six-pointer at Whitstable Town.
As he did in the reverse fixture in December, Matt Loaring netted from the spot, on this occasion giving his side a lead rather than a late leveller. But heading back into the dressing room a goal up against the run of play, Tony Vance’s side failed to spring into life and gain control the game, and near-constant pressure from the Oysterboys eventually told.
It means the Green Lions drop a place, now three points behind their conquerors and having played a game more, only being kept off the bottom because of another defeat for Greenwich Borough.
There was little sign of the recent resoluteness on the road and Guernsey have now gone seven games without a win, giving up games that on paper they should have been getting something out of that would have seen them in a far more comfortable midtable position. They allowed the division’s lowest scorers to score three times in the league for the first time this season.
Guernsey had early scares as Harry Stannard flicked a header wide of the far post when a long throw had been allowed to travel a long way, while a free header for Rob Gillman from a corner to the far post clipped off the top of the crossbar and Stephen Smith headed well over as he stretched to meet a cross from the right.
James Morrish blazed high and wide from just inside the area and Stanton came out to smother as Smith was put through one on one after sloppy play from Guernsey, who were looking ropey in the opening stages.
The Green Lions were struggling to make the ball stick up front and it took 20 minutes for their first meaningful effort on goal as Dave Rihoy, back up front, let fly from outside the area and saw his effort diverted wide. The first corner was dealt with but Glyn Dyer flicked the second one wide.
Stanton was keeping busy and sprung to his left to make an excellent stop to deny Stuart West midway through the half, making up for the initial error as his throw put pressure on Liam Mahon, who was robbed of possession. Harry Brown also sent a free-kick way over the crossbar.
Smith was denied again by Stanton on 27 minutes as he tried to take advantage of miscommunication in the Guernsey backline and lift the ball over the GFC stopper. Rihoy was in the way on the half-hour to block from Smith at the far post in a goalmouth scramble and Tom Bryant’s poor low shot was easily scooped up by Stanton.
Despite being on the back foot almost constantly, it was Tony Vance’s side that took the lead on 33 minutes. Rihoy got on the end of a ball over the top, beating Dan Eason to it to get the shot away. It hit the side-netting, but the referee deemed that Eason wiped out Rihoy as he was taking the shot and pointed to the spot. Matt Loaring assumed responsibility for the fifth time this season and once again didn’t disappoint, lashing the ball high into the net for his 14th goal of the season.
Morrish dragged a half-volley well wide from way out, while Jamie Dodd saw a downward header from Dyer’s corner cleared on the edge of the six-yard box. Carlos Canha also skewed well high and wide after a strong run, perhaps deceived by a bobble on an awful playing surface.
GFC saw out sustained pressure at the end of the half, with Stanton comfortably holding a free-kick from new Whistable signing Conner Sanders.
The Oysterboys should have been level within moments of the restart following the controversial awarding of a corner against Jamie Dodd, but the ball was somehow poked wide of a virtually open goal by a home attacker from just a couple of yards out.
A double save from Eason first denied Loaring from outside the area and then Canha from the close-range rebound. The Green Lions were showing a bit more promise and Paris Pereira lifted well over the top from the edge after Canha collected a long throw and teed him up.
That double chance proved to be a turning point as instead the Green Lions having more of a cushion, the game remained tight and Whitstable got back on top once more, with Morrish’s curler flew past the top corner from 20 yards.
And that was a sign of things to come as the hosts equalised just after the hour, with West bundling the ball over the line from lost range after good build-up play allowed Smith to deliver from the right.
Half-hearted penalty appeals from Guernsey were waved away as Canha saw a rising shot blocked on the edge of the area after being found by Liam Mahon.
Smith blew a huge opportunity on 70 minutes as he was played in on the left of the area and bore down on goal, but he slipped as he took the shot from close range and allowed Stanton to block. Guernsey went straight up the other end but substitute Will Fazakerley poked wide of the near post after good work from Canha.
The hosts did turn it around with just over 15 minutes to go thanks to an element of good fortune as Smith’s shot from the angle deflected off Dodd towards the far post, where new striker Harry Stannard was able to steer the ball in.
Smith struck wide of Stanton’s left-hand post shortly after and the visiting defence was looking all at sea again.
GFC’s second half was summed up with less than five minutes to go as Whitstable got a third to confirm the victory that sees them leapfrog their visitors. It came from a sliced Tobin clearance that looped up in the air across the area, where Smith was waiting to nod the ball over Stanton.
A late routine save from Stanton kept out a long-range half-volley from Sanders, with Guernsey never looking likely to snatch a late consolation.
Saturday’s other Bostik South East results were as follows: Ashford United 3-0 Ramsgate, Cray Wanderers 2-0 Horsham, East Grinstead Town 1-1 Herne Bay, Faversham Town 0-0 Phoenix Sports, Hythe Town 1-0 Whyteleafe, Sevenoaks Town 0-1 Sittingbourne, Three Bridges 2-0 Greenwich Borough, VCD Athletic 0-2 Hastings United.
Whitstable Town: Dan Eason, Stuart West, Harry Brown, Jordan Wright (Nick Treadwell 70’), Rob Gillman, Tom Bryant, Connor Sanders, James Morrish, Harry Stannard (James Trueman 90’), Stephen Smith, Taylor Fisher (Miles Cornwell 66’). Not used: Tom Walmsley.
Goal: West 62’; Stannard 75’, Smith 88’. Booked: Smith, Treadwell.
Guernsey: Callum Stanton, Thomas Dodds, Jamie Dodd (c), Kieran Mahon, Frank Tobin, Liam Mahon (Seb Skillen 86’), Glyn Dyer (Keanu Marsh 81’), Paris Pereira (Will Fazakerley 56’), Dave Rihoy, Carlos Canha, Matt Loaring.
Goal: Loaring (pen) 33’. Booked: Tobin, Dyer, Dodd, Fazakerley.
Highlights will be available on GFCTV over the weekend, with the 90-minute playback available now until the start of the next broadcast.