Wembley 0, Guernsey FC 2
Highlights courtesy of GFCTV in partnership with Kings Life
Wembley 0, Guernsey FC 2
AS THE winter months approach, Tony Vance may well feel that everything is clicking nicely into place for Guernsey FC’s title push.
Despite it still being early days for the Green Lions in this league – the quarter-mark has now been passed – this latest performance was one that will increase confidence further.
Results have been faultless for weeks now as they have embarked on a nine-game winning run in the league – but there was an accomplishment about this display that was ominous for their rivals.
The defensive frailties which have dogged the Green Lions lately were gone and performance levels were maintained for 90 minutes against a decent Wembley outfit on a wet, windy and bitterly cold day.
That, along with traffic problems leading to a late arrival and a truncated warm-up, as well as the late loss of a sick Dave Rihoy, threatened to derail them before kick-off.
But this is a side growing in maturity and they produced possibly their best away performance yet.
Much was made in the build-up about the home side’s star man, young goalscoring sensation Daryl Atkins, but he was negated efficiently throughout.
In fairness, he is a class act who will thrive far beyond this level of football, as his blistering pace and ability to beat players made clear. But unfortunately for him, he had a lack of support from his colleagues.
He threatened to open up GFC within the opening 3min. bursting through and winning a corner, which was part of a decent opening 10 minutes of pressure.
But after that passed, the visitors’ attacking options came to the fore, albeit without the decisive cutting edge in the final third early on.
The two best players on the pitch were unquestionably Matt Loaring and Glyn Dyer, who terrorised the home defence at every opportunity.
Dyer is returning to his devastating form of 2010 and early 2011, while Loaring is fast becoming one of the league’s most dangerous weapons, beating full-backs on both flanks at will.
It was Loaring who fired handsomely wide in GFC’s first meaningful attack after 11min., although Warren Waugh should have scored at the other end moments later, but shot weakly at Chris Tardif.
That easy stop was as much as Tardif had to do all afternoon because his back four were exemplary, with right-back Jacques Isabelle almost the provider when his low cross could not be turned in by Loaring.
Ross Allen led the line for GFC as well as ever and had a low shot denied at point-blank range by Wembley keeper Lee Pearce’s foot, while Dyer also curled over from a decent position.
Ryan-Zico Black had one of his quieter games in the middle, but still came close with a free-kick, before the game’s one flashpoint on 36min.
Clearly having seen Dyer have too much say on proceedings, Wembley player-coach and captain Ian Bates let his elbow do the talking by felling him off-the-ball in the centre circle.
Fortunately for the home skipper, none of the officials saw the blow to the face and he got off without punishment.
Wembley could have taken the lead just before half-time as Waugh was again given too much space in the box. But as he went to shoot, he was denied by a perfect Angus Mackay sliding tackle.
After the restart, the home side never really threatened, although it was still promising to be a frustrating afternoon for GFC.
Playing a side that is far better than their current 15th-place position suggests, they were again finding the back of their opponent’s net elusive.
Isabelle fired out for a throw-in from close range with the best chance of the lot, as a loose ball fell to him at the back post after Dom Heaume and Allen had both won headers.
But a minute short of the hour mark, GFC won their latest set-piece in an extensive list and finally made it count.
Dyer’s low curling 30-yard free-kick was on target and heading towards the bottom corner, hitting the wet surface and forcing Pearce to parry.
From only a couple of yards out, Heaume was on hand to tuck home the rebound, contributing another important goal in island colours.
And that goal was a weight off the visitors’ shoulders and they created openings regularly for the remainder of the contest.
Loaring’s one-on-one effort was denied by the legs of Pearce from an angle and, after reacting quickest to the loose ball, the same man lifted a shot inches wide of the far post.
But the youngster made up for it seconds later, by setting up the match-clincher on 77min., as route one proved effective.
Tardif’s kick forward was excellently flicked on by the head of Loaring, leaping above his marker, to put Allen in the clear.
He expertly lifted the bouncing ball first time over Pearce and despite the Wembley number one getting a hand on it, it was not enough to stop it nestling in the back of his net.
Allen nearly made it three when his deflected effort hit the crossbar and Heaume put over the bar with the rebound, despite an open goal gaping.
Loaring was also in the clear again by breaking the offside trap, but chose to square to Heaume rather than shoot, the pass going just behind his team-mate.
With the win safe, Dyer was withdrawn for teenager Rhys Jordan and the highly-talented attacking midfielder should have got his name on the scoresheet in injury-time.
Tardif’s kick out onto the flank picked out Allen and after controlling under pressure, he rolled through to Jordan, who tried to be slightly too casual and allowed Pearce an easy save.