Guernsey FC 0, Redhill 1 FOR all of their success on home soil in the past, few would have predicted the current state of play for Guernsey FC in their debut Ryman campaign.
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Guernsey FC 0, Redhill 1
FOR all of their success on home soil in the past, few would have predicted the current state of play for Guernsey FC in their debut Ryman campaign.
Seven points secured from six games is an acceptable start, considering the sizeable step up in standard and the mid-table position they find themselves in is far from concerning.
What is, though, is that not one of those points, and indeed none of the four goals, have come at Footes Lane, where the Green Lions were virtually unbeatable in the lower echelons of non-league football.
This latest display, albeit not as bad, was closer in execution to the 4-0 humbling against Ramsgate than the previous defeat to Horsham, which had been mightily encouraging.
The defensive mistakes which littered that Ramsgate thrashing were generally cut out and the errors instead came when in possession and many of the decisions made by the Lions.
After an encouraging first 10 minutes, when Dom Heaume should have scored with a gilt-edged close-range header that went wide, some of the football being played suggested a positive afternoon.
But the style quickly changed, perhaps after Redhill themselves came close twice early on, to a long-ball strategy from the back that virtually cut out in-form midfielders Tom de la Mare and Scott Bougourd.
It meant a frustrating afternoon on the whole, with Nigel Hutton and Glyn Dyer persevering without much success, while Matt Loaring and Dom Heaume were uncharacteristically quiet.
In truth, the first 45 minutes would have been pretty forgettable for any neutral watching, particularly after the first 20 minutes, as neither team looked like scoring.
Earlier, Chris Tardif had made his first intervention of the afternoon in the GFC goal to deny Richmond Kissi, far from the last time that he would be in the action.
Putting it bluntly, Tardif ultimately kept the scoreline respectable for his side and, had it not been for his 14 saves – at least half of them out of the top drawer – it could have been another chastening experience.
He was one of a very small group of home players to perform, one of the others being teenager Tom Martin, making his first start in place of injured Jamie Dodd at left-back.
Standing in for one of his big name colleagues did not faze him, though, as he barely put a foot wrong in an exceptional individual display and it would be tough to remember a player beating him all afternoon.
But that was one of the limited positives, another being that Ross Allen’s return is imminent, while Ryan-Zico Black, Alex Le Prevost and Dodd are among the others to return to an injury-ravaged squad.
At half-time, it looked as though both teams could play for a long while without breaking the deadlock, but that changed after the break as Redhill created opportunities at will.
Most of the Garenne Stand crowd will have been delighted to see the belated introduction of top scorer Marc McGrath from the subs bench after 56min., having earned a rest for the day.
But only seconds after that, his presence looked even more important as Redhill took the lead.
Sam Robinson floated in a corner which was not dealt with, and in came former pro Gavin Gordon on the far side to head home powerfully.
Fingers could be pointed at the marking, or possibly even Tardif, but, either way, it was sloppy and thoroughly deserved by the impressive visitors.
Josh Bonnett nearly doubled the lead as the endless attacks wore on, while Gordon could easily have had a hat-trick, as he missed numerous free headers.
Tardif was now being peppered as his team never looked like finding an equaliser and the final match stats of just one home shot on target to 15 from Redhill summed it all up.
Kyle Smith and Seb Skillen were both introduced from the home bench, the latter for his debut, to add something different to the attack, but neither teenager got enough of the ball to do any damage.
The chances were still coming at the other end and, having seemingly done everything, Tardif bettered himself and for the second game running, made a truly brilliant intervention.
His first parry from a shot across goal was standard, but to be back on his feet for the point-blank second effort from Gordon and then a third into the far corner was astonishing.
It was a staggering triple-save and if his teammates had managed to get themselves out of jail, it would have been as deserved as any goal scored all season.
But that smash-and-grab did not materialise and the final chance before Elliot Kaye’s final whistle was aptly denied by Tardif, superbly turning behind Jeffrey Addo-Dankwa’s effort.
A man-of-the-match display from the man in blue and one of the best goalkeeping displays you are likely to witness, but, for GFC, one they hope will not need to be repeated.
Guernsey FC: Tardif, Mackay (McGrath 56), Cochrane, Strawbridge, Martin, de la Mare (Skillen 79), Bougourd, Loaring, Dyer, Heaume, Hutton (Smith 67).
Redhill: Greaves, Duke, Robinson, Difford, Hill, Egan (Addo-Dankwa 65), Bingham, Kelly, Bonnett (Mitford 82), Gordon (Biggs 88), Kissi.
Referee: E. Kaye.