Guernsey FC 1, Badshot Lea 1 FOR so long now his island's go-to man, Ross Allen is no stranger to scoring big goals at big times in big games.
Highlights courtesy of GFCTV in partnership with Kings Life
Guernsey FC 1, Badshot Lea 1
FOR so long now his island's go-to man, Ross Allen is no stranger to scoring big goals at big times in big games.
He added another to the growing list - his 79th strike now for Guernsey FC alone - to rescue a point for the Green Lions moments after the board had gone up signalling five minutes of stoppage time.
Having already had three efforts chalked off for offside - at least one looking a questionable decision - it was just reward for Allen, who was also denied on more than one occasion by opposing keeper Matt Watson.
For the home side, who remain two points adrift of Badshot Lea after the full-time whistle, it would have been close to a travesty if they had not grabbed at least a share of the spoils.
They dominated the last half-hour after falling behind and had it not been for the brilliance of Watson and the last-gasp defending of his team-mates, the equaliser would have come far earlier.
But saying that, no one could begrudge Badshot their point either, as they played their part in arguably the best GFC match at 'the Lane' yet and were full value for the 1-1 scoreline.
Badshot had a shape, structure and class about them that GFC have seldom come up against and after a bright home start, it was the visitors who had the better of the first half.
Their upsurge coincided with GFC losing Ben Coulter after just 17min., as a bad tackle saw him carried off the pitch with a foot injury. It was a sad way to depart the scene for a man now going travelling.
Up to that point, the lively Glyn Dyer had looked threatening on a couple of occasions, firstly his low cross thwarted by George Hardy, before Jamie Hoppitt denied the little man with a fine last-ditch tackle.
But that was it really for GFC's attacking intentions until the dying stages of a first half that was intriguing and entertaining, without ever exploding into life.
For all of their best intentions, Badshot could not find a way through the centre-back partnership of Sam Cochrane and Jamie Dodd, somewhat surprisingly reinstated before kick-off.
It was the first time they had played together there this season and although it was a big call from coach Tony Vance, one that he got right, as Dodd deservedly picked up man-of-the-match for a towering display.
In front of them Angus Mackay was again excellent, but in truth it was not GFC's best half, as they repeatedly looked for an over-hit forward pass, rather than trying to keep the ball.
That allowed Badshot a way into the contest, but even then they were restricted to Matt Griffith's powerful effort from a corner that flew over the bar, when he should have found the net.
They also lost a key player when Hoppitt was belatedly replaced after pulling his hamstring in an innocuous clearance, as the minutes ticked by.
Those injuries meant there were five minutes added to the half and it was moments after that announcement when the game suddenly rocketed into life.
Cochrane had a powerful downward header saved by the feet of Watson from a corner, while Allen could have had a penalty when he was clipped in going around Watson.
He stayed on his feet and that prompted referee Peter Conn to wave away the appeals, while his assistant also ruled out Allen's first offside goal of the day, a touch-and-go call moments before the GFC man scored off the underside of the crossbar.
Allen also fired inches wide in the half's last chance, but that brief spell had prompted hopes of a better second half.
To be fair, it came as GFC had clearly been told to play further up the pitch, having more of the ball in dangerous areas as a direct result.
But with 49min. played, they were forced to do it the hard way, as Badshot's top scorer Adam Cornell struck with his 18th goal of the season.
Ryan-Zico Black fell asleep for the briefest of moments in midfield and Josh Pearson capitalised, sliding a pinpoint ball between Dodd and Cochrane, setting Cornell away.
He made no mistake in sliding past Chris Tardif for an opener that already looked like it may be decisive.
As the hour mark approached, it was looking difficult to see GFC finding a way back, but when Vance introduced Alex Le Prevost in place of Ollie McKenzie and shifted his tactics around, things immediately clicked.
For the last half-hour GFC played some of their best football and started to create chances with far more regularity, including a double-chance for Dom Heaume.
A quick throw-in set Allen away into the area and his low cross into the feet of Heaume saw the big man swivel and poke towards goal, beating Watson but not the post.
From that effort off the woodwork and a hurried clearance, Black whipped in the resulting corner and Heaume leapt well with a fine diving header that looked destined to go in, but for an outstretched Badshot leg on the far post.
Dodd missed a glorious chance from the rebound 10 yards out and it was already not looking like GFC's day.
Badshot were still looking threatening themselves, superb right-back Michael Smith nearly finding a way through.
Joe Alvarez nearly scored with his first touch off the home bench but was denied by Watson, before Allen had a second effort chalked off, this one looking a fair decision.
Nobody could doubt Allen's ball-striking ability and he was only denied moments later by a fine sprawling Watson save, after he had chested down Dyer's exquisite ball over the top.
At times it looked like a one-man Watson mission to win all three points and he saved his coup de grace for 76min., when he denied Dyer the equaliser.
The thunderous 20-yard effort was bound for the bottom corner until Watson produced a one-handed save low down of remarkable quality and thus deserved the subsequent help from his defence to block Allen's point-blank rebound.
Then came Allen's hat-trick of disallowed efforts, this one the unluckiest as he looked to have beaten the offside trap before firing home, but to no avail.
With the clock in the last minute of normal time, Badshot should have sealed it when they broke two-on-one following Cochrane's slip, but Pearson selfishly and foolishly went for goal himself, ignoring the pleas of unmarked Ross Millard in the middle.
That proved costly with 91min. on the clock as the visitors' resistance was finally broken.
The latest wave of attack saw Black pass forward to Kieran Mahon, who swivelled and slid through in one fluent motion to Allen, whose low shot this time beat Watson and the offside flag.
How big that goal turns out to be will be decided next April, but at this moment, it was a fitting ending to a tremendous game of football.