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Strike duo give Tardif and Gilligan food for thought

Sport | Published:

THEIR Sunday afternoon trip to the Track was not wasted and the watching Chris Tardif and Kevin Gilligan surely had their eyes opened by the performances of several of the Island U21s, who chalked up a fourth straight win over Jersey at this level.

Dynamic duo: Kyle Smith on the ball with Will Fazakerley close. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin)

The 3-2 scoreline flattered the visitors who against 10 men may have fought back bravely and pressed hard in the closing minutes, but Angus Mackay’s side could have been out of sight long before the late blip – which caused many a fluttering heart among the big contingent of home fans in a packed Track stand.

Tardif won’t have been surprised by the excellence of Thomas Dodds, who held together central midfield, and Charlton Gauvain, incisive wide on the right, but the senior Muratti coach and his assistant must have been licking their lips at the performances of Kyle Smith and, in particular, Will Fazakerley.

The twin strikeforce terrorised Jersey, as their impressively honest coast, Steve Coutanche, admitted.

‘I have to say that both their 9 and 10, in terms of their physicality and movement, were impressive – especially the No. 9, who got man of the match. I’m very impressed with him. He did give our centre backs a bit of a torrid time in the first half,’ said the Jersey coach, who must have wondered what had hit his side in a blazing opening half-hour by the Greens.

‘All credit to Guernsey in the first half, where they counter attacked us really well and caused us problems in that respect,’ said Coutanche later.

‘Going 3-0 in at half time obviously it is a difficult conversation, but to be fair I thought that whilst Guernsey were sitting back that little bit further and trying to manage the game, we probably created enough chances to take it into extra time.

‘The character of the players was really pleasing, but we could have done with scoring maybe 10 minutes or so earlier.’

In the other technical area, the coaching team of Angus Mackay and Tom Strawbridge saw their carefully laid out plans work almost perfectly.

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‘It was fantastic in the first half,’ said Mackay.

‘We had really worked hard in training with these guys and while we haven’t had the games we would have liked, everyone understood their roles.

‘We had the combination of “Faz” and Kyle at 10 up front with Seb and Charlton wide going forward, with the security of two holding midfielders and the back four.

‘At half time we said we are in a good position here and we don’t have to win the ball so far up the pitch, so the plan was to hit them on the counter.

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‘We probably sat back more than we would have liked to.’

He was right on that point, too.

Guernsey did sit back a tad unnecessarily and when keeper Jordan Kelly got his marching orders, they were pushed back further as Jersey sensed a way back.

Sure, Jersey played with admirable spirit and had their chances, but the match-winners were all wearing green.

The question now has to be, has Fazakerley played himself into the Muratti starting XI and will Smith get another chance?

Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
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