Guernsey FC’s ‘Originals’ played out a 2-2 draw at Footes Lane with the new generation on Sunday afternoon in a showcase match to celebrate the club’s 10th year.
It was an entertaining affair with the Green Lions’ old guard keen to show the younger lads that they were still top dogs.
In charge of the Originals, Tony Vance and Colin Fallaize fittingly named the same starting XI that lined up against Knaphill for the club’s first ever competitive game in August 2011, which meant the Footes Lane crowd welcomed back the likes of Matt Warren and Ollie McKenzie as well as club stalwarts Dom Heaume, Sam Cochrane and Ryan-Zico Black.
The Original squad had clocked up more than 3,000 appearances between them, well over three times that of their younger counterparts, the ‘GFC XI’ picked by Steve Sharman and Stew Moyles, made up of players who are in the current squad or have played in more recent seasons, and even a few on the bench wearing a GFC shirt for the first time. Unfortunately, injury prevented Tyler McKane, Kieran Mahon and Will Fazakerley joining the festivities.
Despite perhaps not being able to match their younger contemporaries for pace, the originals gelled together well like the days of old and were more than a match for the youngsters. They created the first chance as Ross Allen took advantage of the GFC XI defence misjudging a high ball forward from McKenzie and bore down on goal, but a combination of Josh Addison and a covering defender prevented the number 10 from finishing at the near post. Glyn Dyer dragged a shot wide from the resulting corner.
Chris Tardif showed his hands were as safe as ever as he held a crisp strike from Charlton Gauvain at the other end, while Addison blocked again from Allen, who was then to be denied by the offside flag as he broke clear and stroked the ball home.
Allen came close again when Alex Le Prevost headed Glyn Dyer’s free-kick back across goal, but he couldn’t quite get high enough on his leap to meet the ball, which flew to safety.
Always at the heart of the Originals’ best chances, Allen then saw a free-kick saved comfortably by Addison before he got fifth-time lucky around the quarter-hour mark. Again, it came from a high ball forward, this time from Angus Mackay, and Addison misjudged the bounce as he came flying out of his goal. Allen was through but brought down by a desperate last-ditch lunge from Frank Tobin. It would have surely been an instant dismissal in any other game or circumstance, but Allen instead got back to his feet quickly enough to knock the loose ball in anyway and give the Originals the lead.
The GFC XI started to come into the game more after that, and were on top for the rest of the half. Tardif blocked at the near post as Gauvain drove at goal from the angle, while Fin Whitmore fired over on the turn from 25 yards and Jacob Fallaize directed a corner into the side netting. Louis Graham, was then denied by Tardif from point-blank range after a high cross had dropped in the area.
Alex Le Prevost proved he has not lost his timing or reading of the game as his intervention denied Gauvain, who had been played in by Mahon, while Whitmore swiped at the ball and missed as he looked to connect with Canha’s low delivery after the Madeiran had been picked out by Gauvain.
The pressure was increasing, though, and the GFC XI got their rewards a few minutes before the break. After another good move, Canha stood a high ball up to the far post, where Graham was well placed to make it 1-1.
There was time for one more chance before the half was out as Keanu Marsh forced his way down the right wing. He played a one-two and fired high at goal but the effort was straight at Tardif, who blocked.
The first chance of the second half fell to Black as Heaume teed him up from a dropping loose ball, but substitute stopper Jordan Kelly made the block. Whitmore fired over at the other end, then Canha bundled his way past Tom Strawbridge and hit the outside of the post.
Heaume thought he had put the Originals back in front on 51 minutes as he nodded in a high ball, but he too saw an effort chalked off as the referee judged there to have been a foul in the build-up.
It was to prove pivotal as the GFC XI turned the game round a minute later. A cross from the right wing was behind Whitmore, but Gauvain was waiting behind him and stuck a toe in just ahead of Le Prevost to poke the ball towards the far corner, where it crept in off the post.
The chances continued at either end, with Strawbridge’s low drive towards goal cleared near the GFC XI goal line, while substitute Glenn Le Tissier headed over at the other end.
Allen and Strawbridge were somehow unable to force the ball in from a goalmouth scramble, with substitute Craig Young lashing just wide from the edge of the area on the follow up.
Strong defending from Fallaize stopped Matt Loaring getting a clear shot at goal from point-blank range, while Tardif held from Le Tissier at the other end.
Black picked out the run of Allen with a low free-kick on 70 minutes but a timely block came in as the latter shot across goal. Two minutes later, Loaring cut in from the left but dragged his shot wide of the near post. His cross was then met by a touch from Strawbridge, but the defender couldn’t divert the ball on target.
It was the rekindling of an older partnership that saw the Originals get back on level terms with 10 minutes left as Heaume collected the ball on the edge of the area and played in Allen, who curled the ball in at the far post with his left foot.
The oldies had found some extra energy from somewhere, but the GFC XI came closer to finding a winner in the closing stages. First, Tardif rushed out to the feet of Le Tissier to prevent the shot, then the veteran stopper showed he still had his reflexes as he flung himself full stretch to his left to tip away Steve Renouf’s goal-bound header.
Renouf misjudged one more header in stoppage time while Strawbridge fired over with a speculative effort from range, so when the final whistle went it was honours even.
On the balance of play, a draw was probably a fair result and in a nice touch at the end, GFC XI skipper Tom De La Mare led his team in a guard of honour for those Originals who had helped paved the way for increased opportunities for Guernsey’s most talented footballers 10 years ago.
Originals starting XI: Chris TARDIF, Angus MACKAY, Ollie McKENZIE, Sam COCHRANE (c), Alex LE PREVOST, Matt WARREN, Glyn DYER, Ryan-Zico BLACK, Dominic HEAUME, Ross ALLEN, Dave RIHOY. Subs used: Ben COULTER, Tom STRAWBRIDGE, Matt LOARING, Jamie DODD, Sam COCHRANE, Simon GEALL, Craig YOUNG, Scott BRADFORD.
Goals: Allen 15’, 81’.
GFC starting XI: Josh ADDISON, Keanu MARSH, Tom DE LA MARE (c), Jacob FALLAIZE, Frank TOBIN, Thomas DODDS, Charlton GAUVAIN, Liam MAHON, Fin WHITMORE, Carlos CANHA, Louis GRAHAM. Subs used: Tom MARTIN, Jordan KELLY, Steve RENOUF, Glenn LE TISSIER, Blair HOWITT, Seb SMEED, Harry TOUGH, Ben ACEY, Ben SOLWAY.
Goals: Graham 40’; Gauvain 52’.