Guernsey book trip to Jersey for Muratti final
Alderney 0, Guernsey 4
THEY may have sensed their best chance in a number of years, but Alderney never looked like causing a seismic upset at Mount Hale in their biennial encounter against Guernsey.
With the Sarnians sending what many classed as a 'weaker' side for this Insurance Corporation Muratti clash, all it did was show the enviable strength in depth the local game currently has.
As well as the obvious names of captain Angus Mackay – who grabbed his first Muratti goal here – and Dave Rihoy, there were still at least another three or four players in green who would not look out of place against Jersey in May.
Top of that list were the Bels pairing of Craig Young and Simon Marley, the latter particularly impressive as he makes a mockery of the suggestion he may not be totally match fit after spending a lengthy period out injured.
In the first 25 minutes that saw Guernsey sew up a routine success by romping into a 3-0 lead, Marley was everywhere in an attacking sense and on another day would have got the goal his efforts warranted.
Young and Rihoy were as dangerous as you would always expect, while Joby Bourgaize was excellent in the middle of the park to dampen any brief threat caused by Alderney's captain Steve Concanen.
That mini-battle was an intriguing contest and experience was certainly a key element in proceedings, as other than Concanen and Jason Atkins, Alderney's youngsters looked fazed.
In the likes of Young, Marley, Bourgaize and Darren Martin, the visitors have those who have been there and done it for years and a few will hope to keep their place in the squad for the Jersey showpiece on 11 May.
It was unsurprising that Marley would be instrumental in the opener after 11 minutes, but things could have been different had Alderney made the most of their best chance all afternoon.
Guernsey had dominated the early exchanges with a number of set pieces when they were caught out, Simon Geall letting a forward ball bounce when he should not have and after hitting a divot, it shot past him.
In a straight race between Geall and home striker Ciaran Stretton, there was only one winner and Stretton was through one-on-one with Guernsey keeper Tom Creed, only for the striker's heavy first touch to allow Creed to collect.
That was as good as it got all afternoon for the hosts and the only time that Creed looked under any threat, with Geall and Mackay in front of him having a routine day's work.
Moments after that, Guernsey were ahead and it came from a magical Marley free-kick, all of 30 yards out, that curled beyond Jamie Leband and came back off the inside of the post.
Any justice would have seen it go in, but it did not, instead coming out for first Paris Pereira to fluff his lines in front of goal and instead allow Tom de la Mare to smash home from close range.
Guernsey continued to threaten as they kept their heads well amid a number of late Alderney challenges that could have seen a flurry of bookings, had referee Gareth Bailey not used diplomacy as his first port of call.
It did not matter, though, as moments after Leband had excellently denied a poor defensive header from being an own goal, the lead was doubled through the skipper Mackay, almost inevitably from a set piece.
A corner found its way to the back post and Mackay bundled home from close range, the linesman's flag signalling the ball had crossed the line.
Young nearly got in on the act with a long range volley that Leband saved well, before it was game, set and match on 25min., with young Tom Martin expertly guiding home de la Mare's diagonal ball into the corner on the half-volley.
It meant the outcome was already inevitable and even from that early stage, Guernsey went through the motions and were never under any threat for the remainder of the half.
Things continued like that after the break, with the one moment of class coming on 54min., as Young fired home from 20 yards into the top corner, via Leband's palm as he tried to turn behind.
The substitutes became a regular part of proceedings for both sides after that clincher, with Damien Larkin receiving his Muratti bow for Guernsey amid a flurry of boos against his former team.
Ashley Foster had a half-chance for Alderney's first goal against Guernsey since 2005 – when the scoreline was a mere 2-1, something that seems a footballing lifetime ago – but blazed well over Creed's crossbar.
At the other end, Mackay was on something of a mission to grab his second, as only the excellent Leband's fingertips denied a rasping half-volley flying into the far top corner.
Marley nearly scored direct from a corner that hung in the wind before dropping dangerously, while Rihoy's effort flew inches over the bar as the match became something resembling a training exercise.
Even with Guernsey's big names suffering a frustrating afternoon in GFC colours at Footes Lane, it is clear that their Ridunian rivals are still a long way off their first Muratti win since 1920.
Alderney: Leband, McCormack, Atkins, Vizard, Aldcroft, Johns (Lawrence 72), Concanen, Benfield, Foster, Stretton (Blackham 68), McCulloch.
Guernsey: Creed, D. Martin (Larkin 59), Geall, Mackay, T. Martin, de la Mare, Bourgaize, Marley (Austen 72), Pereira, Rihoy (Hale 80), Young.
Referee: G. Bailey.