Hartley Wintney 3, Guernsey FC 4 JUDGING by their league positions, you would have been forgiven for thinking that Guernsey FC would have a comfortable ride at Hartley Wintney.
Dominic Heaume interviewed by Matt Lihou.
Courtesy of GFCTV in partnership with Kings Life
Hartley Wintney 3, Guernsey FC 4
JUDGING by their league positions, you would have been forgiven for thinking that Guernsey FC would have a comfortable ride at Hartley Wintney.
After all, the UK side are languishing bottom of the table with just four points, but this encounter proved to be every bit as entertaining as the scoreline suggests.
True, the visiting Green Lions looked to have it sewn up at 4-1 ahead, only for a fierce home fightback, aided by some questionable officiating, to make it tense.
In the end, GFC should be applauded for fighting through a nervous climax with 10 men to secure three points, in a performance that mixed the excellent with the frustrating.
Many of the positives came in an attacking display that looked to have the game wrapped up by half-time, racing into a 3-1 lead and looking dangerous every time they got on the ball.
Having seen skipper Sam Cochrane fall ill in the warm-up and miss out, the armband was handed to Dom Heaume and he delivered a fantastic captain’s performance.
The superb No. 9 had a hand in all four goals, starting with the opener after just 7min.
Glyn Dyer was excellent in his hour on the pitch and when he was fouled in the centre circle, a quickly taken free-kick set Heaume through on goal down the right.
He squared first time to strike partner Ross Allen and GFC’s goal machine did the rest, poking home into the empty net to break the deadlock.
Despite that strike, Hartley were showing promise themselves going forward and they would ultimately open up GFC’s defence on more occasions than any team has so far this season.
But when the equaliser came on 15min., it was through the spectacular as Dan Brownlie looked up from 35 yards out, spotted goalkeeper Paul de Garis slightly off his line and belted a bullet-like effort into the top corner.
It was a stunning strike, but only enough to level things for a matter of moments, as the frenetic pace continued with GFC retaking the lead after 17min.
This time it was Heaume who finished the move off, a well-timed diving header at the back post from Ryan-Zico Black’s whipped cross giving home keeper Craig Atkinson no chance.
A year ago, GFC could only draw at this ground after producing an abject first-half performance, but it was the polar opposite this time in a minutes full of pace and vibrancy.
Ben Coulter went close to doubling the lead as the minutes wore on, although he also picked up a booking that would later prove costly, after catching Ashley Lloyd late.
Much of Hartley’s threat came through the dangerous Ryan Stephens, who finished with a brace, although he could not convert his first opportunity when he hit the side-netting.
On 36min. it looked to be plain sailing for the Lions as Heaume was at it again with a similar goal to his first, this time finishing off the move of the match.
Allen did the hard work in the centre of the park to win, keep and then distribute the ball out to Dyer, whose low cross was headed on by Black into the path of Heaume, who stooped low to head home at the back post.
That was the half-time score and when the fourth came soon after the restart on 52min., the GFC win looked inevitable.
This time, Dyer’s excellent reverse ball put Heaume away but, rather than go for goal himself, he expertly spotted and picked the run of Allen with a lovely and unselfish sideways ball.
As ever, Allen made no mistake with a coolly-taken curled finish past Atkinson and into the far corner.
But while the match was high on quality, it was low on drama, until Hartley reduced the deficit on 56min.
Zac Reynolds’ curled ball in from the right touchline bounced in the GFC box and, after a mix-up that saw de Garis and his two centre-backs – Jamie Dodd and Alex Le Prevost – all leave it, Stephens nipped in to take advantage.
Another error nearly made it 3-4 a while later, this time Shane Hollomby surprisingly beating de Garis to a through ball and shooting towards goal, only for Dodd to make a magnificent retreat and sliding tackle to prevent Stephens tapping home.
To their credit, those couple of errors were rarities in a committed defensive display, but the task became harder on 77min., as Coulter was harshly sent off.
He was clearly onside as he made his way through on goal but, after being flagged offside, he was adjudged to have kicked the ball away as he continued his run around Atkinson.
A second yellow card came out of referee Mike Coen’s pocket followed by the red, but Coen’s influence on the game was not finished there.
Moments later, Hollomby cut in from the left to head towards goal and, despite contact from Black as he went to shoot looking minimal at best, Coen pointed to the penalty spot.
Stephens made no mistake with his spot-kick, finding the bottom corner and leaving the visitors nine nervy minutes plus five more of stoppage time to negotiate.
They very nearly didn’t, as Max Edwards headed over a quite glorious chance from an unmarked position, but that was the last opportunity Hartley would create.
Le Prevost and substitute Joe Alvarez both came close to grabbing the Lions’ fifth, but, come the full-time whistle, 4-3 looked a more than satisfactory scoreline on a dramatic night.