Table-toppers Bels extend their winning start

TOP of the league, three league wins from three and into the Jeremie whatever round.

Bels midfielder Ryan-Zico Black is closed down as he plays a pass against Alderney at the Track. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 29979063)
Bels midfielder Ryan-Zico Black is closed down as he plays a pass against Alderney at the Track. (Picture by Andrew Le Poidevin, 29979063)

Life is sweet at Bels but, as we all know, sweets can be damaging to your health. They provide instant gratification but are not so good long term.

The truth is that Belgraves are not playing as a top of the table side would want to. There is room for significant improvements and the rub of the green, currently with them, is a fickle thing in sport.

Just ask Alderney.

For the second week running they were highly competitive, only to be punished for little. They so deserved their late consolation in a 3-1 defeat and are clearly better than the side which faltered so much last season.

The visitors had made a couple of changes from the defeat at St Andrew’s, Dean Carre coming in between the sticks and Muratti defender Jason Atkins bolstering the defence on one of his occasional trips over from the UK.

The benefit of Atkins presence was that Josh Concanen could push up into midfield where his range of passing and ball winning would be key in a formation which had skipper Ross Benfield slotting in on the right of a back three with Andy Adamson in the middle,

In the home side, Leroi Riley came in for the unavailable regular No. 1 Tom Bruley and, of bigger news, was the absence of Charlton Gauvain.

With coach Stu Simon at a family wedding, No. 2 Dave Merris chose to keep himself on the bench and oversee things from there, at least until just past the hour mark with the game won at 3-0.

As the previous game, Merris spurned a close-up view from pitch side to spend much of the game a few rows back in the still roofless stand to get a more telling view of proceedings and it was not always a pretty sight.

With Marc McGrath suspended, Brent Marquand was pushed into a striker’s role and Bels were seeing plenty of the ball early on without creating anything clear cut.

Ryan-Zico Black was at the heart of most things in that opening quarter and from a well worked corner the veteran had a strong goal-bound drive blocked.

Alderney’s first serious push saw Benfield deliver a fine cross from the fight touchline and Riley had to be alert to block Dante Walker’s header.

Defender Selby Breaton clattered the bar with a fierce 20-yard strike and Bels continued to look the more convincing of two blunt attacks.

On 24min. Marquand was judged to be shoved in the back as he leapt for a header and picked himself up to send Carre the wrong way from the spot.

Walker did his best to create an equaliser with some neat work off the right touchline, but his fellow forwards hung back too deep to take advantage of a ball begging to be tapped home.

There was nothing wrong with the Ridunian spirit. In fact there was too much of it for ref Brent Blondel’s liking who intervened when Concanen and Johnny Adamson overdid their verbal sparring. Captain Benfield was called into the huddle to add his weight to the peace talks.

On the positive side, Marian State should have levelled after he intervened on halfway and ran clear with only Riley to beat.

The Romanian could have shot, opted to round the keeper or chip. He chose the latter and Riley got a vital hand to the ball and Bels had escaped amid a good spell for Alderney.

Belgraves’ energy levels were substantially below that of the away team in that final 15 minutes of the first half and they remained that way when the two sides returned. But, without warning, they doubled their lead.

Alderney slept at a throw, Steve Renouf volleyed a cross into the near post and Joby Bourgaize rose unchallenged to make it 2-0.

Before very long it was three and game over, Dave Rihoy finding the corner with a low drive from 20 yards.

Marquand nearly grabbed his second with a delicate chip that just went wide of the far post.

All the while, Alderney’s spirit was undiminished and having seen Ciaran Stretton went close Alderney finally got the goal they deserved with a powerful late Owen Carre header.

In the day's other FNB Priaulx League game, North won the Grand Fort Road derby at the Corbet Field 2-0 against Vale Rec, with Luke Mollet and Joe Alvarez on the scoresheet.

At Port Soif, Rovers overcame Manzur 4-3 after extra-time in the Jeremie Cup.

  • More in Monday's Guernsey Press.

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