Guernsey FC 2, Whitstable Town 1 NORMAL service has been resumed at Footes Lane for Guernsey FC.
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Guernsey FC 2, Whitstable Town 1
NORMAL service has been resumed at Footes Lane for Guernsey FC.
After their first three home Ryman South games had seen good, bad and indifferent displays, and all ending in defeats, they finally got their first win – and goals – of this campaign.
On a day where Tony Vance’s men were excellent in the first half and clinical in the second, the three points were fully deserved and indeed should have been sewn up far earlier than they were.
Charlie Smith’s strike to halve the deficit seconds before half-time gave Whitstable a lifeline their poor performance didn’t warrant, but GFC still had enough clear-cut opportunities to seal it.
Marc McGrath squandered one just after half-time that he would bury nine times out of 10 and a couple of other misses made it nervy viewing late on, but at the same time, Chris Tardif’s goal didn’t come under much threat at the other end.
Pleasingly for the Lions, they are now settling on an orthodox 4-4-2 formation, are building up some momentum and are difficult to break down.
It may not have been their best display, more a hard-working one, but after recent showings it was infinitely better, shows Vance’s team are learning game-by-game and have the ability to churn out wins at a high level.
And in Ross Allen, they have a striker bang in form and hungry upon his return from injury, while Dom Heaume marked his landmark 100th game with another excellent display in the heart of midfield.
When he hustles and harries opponents in there, performing at his optimum, then ordinarily GFC play well and this was no different, as they came out the blocks flying.
As early as the third minute, Whitstable were forced into a change when Craig McGuire was stretchered off with a knee injury that saw coach Nicky Southall enter the fray, a former Bolton Wanderers player who has played in all four professional English divisions.
It meant a big reshuffle at the back for the visitors and GFC looked to exploit that, going close twice through Allen and looking threatening every time one of their vast attacking options got on the ball.
But when the opener did arrive after 16min., it came in comical fashion, although Allen won’t be complaining.
Jamie Dodd’s long throw – a weapon all afternoon – saw Peter Huggens try to chest away and in doing so only gave it to Allen, while also falling over in the process.
He had a chance to rectify things when Allen’s first touch was heavy, but all Huggens could do was slip again, ricocheting the ball back to GFC’s lethal number 10, who had the freedom to waltz through the gap.
He made no mistake and found the bottom corner.
After that start, the game fell flat for a while, the only things breaking up the monotony being a couple more chances for Allen, one forcing a fine save out of Luke Watkins in the Whitstable goal. All the while GFC were in control and Glyn Dyer also came close from range as he floated in off the right wing, before the lead was doubled after 42min.
McGrath beat Dan Wells inside and out on the right and when he had the space, delivered a gem of a cross to the back post that had ‘score’ written all over it.
Matt Loaring obliged with a well-timed run and tap-in for his second in successive games, although it was all about the brilliance of the assist.
That should have all but killed the game off, but Smith made the half time team talks different with a goal in the fourth minute of added time which came after various stoppages.
When his close-range snapshot came back off the crossbar, it was adjudged to have crossed the line by the linesman – the correct decision – despite the protestations of the GFC defence and supporters.
More of a concern was that Scott Heard was given the run of the pitch in the build-up to find Southall and then Joe Kane, the latter having too much time to get a shot off, that although well blocked, fell for Smith.
To their credit, that was the only real mistake all afternoon from GFC, who came back out purposefully after the restart and McGrath blazed over from close range, a feat replicated by Allen not long after.
Tardif had to be alert to make a fine save from Heard, but that was as close as Whitstable got until the same man’s teasing cross late on that wasn’t quite turned in.
Referee Michael Smith provided the other major talking point when he chose to only book Heard, the visiting midfielder a lucky man not to see red after a horrible high tackle on Jacques Isabelle.
But with Isabelle quickly back on his feet and GFC producing their best home performance this season, things are looking good.
Guernsey FC: Tardif, Isabelle, Cochrane, Strawbridge, Dodd, Loaring, de la Mare (Martin 50), Heaume, Dyer, Allen, McGrath (Hutton 74).
Whitstable Town: Watkins, Kane (Lester 62), Guest, Wells, McGuire (Southall 5), Heard, Hafner (Munn 72), Morrish, Webb, Huggens, Smith.
Referee: M. Smith.