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Ex-Premier League player stars in Cobham victory

Sport | Published:

THE dream of a clean sweep of trophies may be over, but Guernsey FC can still hold their heads high after playing their part in one of the games of the season at Cobham last night.

Cobham 3

Guernsey FC 2

THE dream of a clean sweep of trophies may be over, but Guernsey FC can still hold their heads high after playing their part in one of the games of the season at Cobham last night.

That they eventually succumbed to a strong UK outfit was simply down to ruthlessness – the home side razor-sharp in front of goal, especially through the presence of ex-Premiership player Jamie Lawrence.

He may now be in his early-40s, but the former Bradford City and Leicester City man still knows how to lead a line and was rewarded with what turned out to be a decisive second goal.

But at the same time, the Green Lions will wonder how they did not come home with better from this quarter-final tie, after being in total control of the game for 40 first-half minutes.

True, they perhaps did not create many clear-cut chances of note during that time, but always looked threatening going forward, with recalled left-back Ollie McKenzie particularly effective with his marauding runs from deep, aided by the intelligent movement of Craig Young.

Those two nearly combined to open the scoring, with Cobham keeper Charlton Hopkins alert, while Kieran Mahon also had a pair of shots well blocked in an impressive opening for the Lions.

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Dom Heaume had perhaps the Lions' best early chance, but miskicked after good work by Tom Strawbridge, Jason Winch and Matt Loaring, with GFC about to be punished with a home strike moments before half-time.

Lawrence's low cross was only half cleared to Connor McLaren and he made no mistake from close range, finding the bottom corner of the net and giving Paul de Garis no chance.

GFC could have been level when McKenzie's superb floated ball found Loaring, but he had strayed marginally offside in reading the pass.

The Cobham lead was nearly doubled after the restart, Jay Kamba's bullet header being excellently flicked inches over his own bar by Alex Le Prevost, with de Garis and the GFC defence seemingly beaten.

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But the second goal did come, with Lawrence the man to volley home from close range after a magnificent ball in from the excellent Pat Kirby demanded to be finished.

GFC now had something resembling a mountain to climb, but were aided by the introduction of Ross Allen, who had started the game on the bench alongside Loaring.

The latter got his chance with an unfortunate first-half injury to Young, while goal machine Allen was introduced after Le Prevost rolled his ankle and was unable to continue.

And when Winch slid in Allen in a crowded penalty area on the hour mark, there was only ever going to one result, a fine toe-poked shot finding the far corner and pulling his side back into the game.

Allen soon forced a smart save from Hopkins, while Heaume could only shoot narrowly wide after more impressive work from Allen, who revived GFC's hopes in an instant.

But just as it looked as though an equaliser was a certainty, the cruellest of strikes restored Cobham's two-goal cushion and ultimately proved to be the decider.

A low, teasing corner led to an attempted clearance by Angus Mackay, but his touch could only divert unluckily past de Garis for an own goal, midfielder and goalkeeper alike both blameless.

Loaring should have halved that deficit when his attempted chip went straight into the arms of Hopkins, while he also had a shot cleared off the line after rounding the Cobham stopper.

That corner led to GFC's second, though, as McKenzie's whipped ball in found the head of Mackay, whose fine flicked header found the far bottom corner and set up a frantic finale.

GFC were now knocking on the door regularly, but the Cobham defence refused to budge, with the most nerve-shredding moment coming three minutes from time.

Allen tried the improbable with a 35-yard dipping effort on his left foot, the stunning strike crashing back off the crossbar, with the rebound leading to a mass of bodies trying to turn the effort in, including a clear foul on Mackay which should have resulted in a penalty.

It was not to be and when Winch could only fire over with a glorious opportunity three minutes into stoppage time, the game was up for GFC, who will rue their lack of a killer edge in front of goal.

But it can be no disgrace that they lost out to a Cobham side much improved since the last meeting of the sides back in August, with Lawrence playing a starring role.

GFC's priority is now very much on league action and they will have a quick chance to right some wrongs as they host Cobham in a little over a fortnight's time at Footes Lane.

On this evidence, it could be one helluva contest.

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