Rovers humbled after early chance goes begging

YOUNG St Peter coach Elliott Powell, who has just been elevated to the Jersey job for the Island Games, admitted after the game that he had been supremely confident that his side would take home the Upton Park Trophy.

St Peter's Tom Blampied had Martin Savident under control for most of the game at Springfield. (Picture by Jon Guegan, Jersey Evening Post)
St Peter's Tom Blampied had Martin Savident under control for most of the game at Springfield. (Picture by Jon Guegan, Jersey Evening Post)

And that confidence proved to be well-placed as his side comprehensively did a job on Rovers, who were plucky at times but outclassed by a confident and cohesive opposition in a 5-0 defeat.

All Rovers could do was bemoan the chance that slipped through their fingers inside the opening 30 seconds, which, had it been taken, could have changed the game.

Charlie Platt was set free down the Rovers right, tortured Peter Vincenti – the only time the former pro was troubled all afternoon – and swung in a cross.

The ball rebounded off Jay Newton’s knee into the path of Martin Savident, who, eight yards out and on the half-turn, swiped his shot wide.

It was more or less the last thing the large Rovers contingent who had travelled over, making up close to half of a pitifully small crowd for such an occasion, had to cheer, and they were silenced well before the end.

For some reason the two Rovers attackers then switched roles, which did nothing for the blue-and-whites’ effectiveness, and although the first seven minutes was spirited from the visitors, St Peter scored from their first meaningful attack.

Arthur Illingworth was set free down the St Peter left and his cross found Jack Hardisty in acres of space in the penalty area. It was criminal defending and the attacker punished it.

On 17 minutes the lead was doubled and Rovers knew for sure that they had a mountain to climb, one which they probably were not going to get to the top of.

They half-cleared an attack which fell to Calvin Weir, 25 yards out on the right hand corner of the penalty area, and his first-time shot arrowed into the bottom corner of Adam Bullock’s goal – an strike of sheer quality.

The Rovers midfield, in particular, could not cope with the reds’ ability to keep possession, move players around and break lines. Often the home midfield were rampaging into wide-open spaces, while Rovers’ own tactic of long diagonals attempting to set Max Simpson-Cohen away was largely a failure, cut out by savvy defending.

The shining light in blue-and-white was Sammy Hall, again making a substantial claim to be playing at a higher level, keeping the ball and beating players with an ease his team-mates could not match. But he could not change the game and frankly, the visitors knew the gig was up before half-time when Blampied’s massive up-and-under saw Weir outmuscle Niall Hainsworth to nod down for Hardisty to take in his stride, ghost past Louis Falla, and fire past Bullock.

Rovers started the second half a little better and had a handful of half chances while the Cross Keys sat on their lead.

Aidan McKay did his bit to lift spirits by winning a whole-hearted 50-50 challenge in the St Peter half, driving forward and going past Vincenti, before he got caught up with his own team-mate Ben Le Tocq and the chance went begging. It was symptomatic of Rovers’ frustrating afternoon.

With 20 minutes to go Rovers manufactured their second-best chance of the game. A team move saw James Grundy suddenly clear on the edge of the box with a shot on. He shifted it on to Max Simpson-Cohen but he shot high and St Peter keeper Piers Roche, who had returned to Jersey just that morning from a trial in England with Tranmere, tipped it over the bar.

Three minutes later St Peter ended the contest. Hall was robbed for once on the halfway line and Hardisty was played through a static back line. He drew Bullock, finished coolly, and was immediately substituted. Job done.

The fifth came with 10 minutes left, St Peter kept the ball from one side of the field to the other as the Rovers defence melted away until ultimately young substitute Seaney McColgan had the ball at his feet on the edge of the six-yard box, and he did the necessary.

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