Guernsey 1 (Murray 8')
Northwood 2 (Alexander-Greenway 61'; Gurteen 67')
Guernsey gave the league leaders a tough game but eventually succumbed as Northwood turned around a first-half deficit to win 2-1.
Sam Murray second goal in two games, and his third of the season to edge him ahead in the GFC golden boot race, gave the Green Lions a deserved early lead to cap a fine start to the game, but the visitors cranked up the pressure in the second half and scored twice in seven minutes midway through the second period to clinch the points.
The result means GFC drop into the Isthmian South Central relegation play-offs and are in a bottom five group that is cut off from midtable by five points, but the Sarnians have been on a tough run against sides near the top of the table and if these performances keep up, Tony Vance can every confidence that things will turn around.
Guernsey started with purpose and show they weren’t to be intimidated by their opponents’ league standing. And they perhaps caught their visitors off guard. An early cross from the right was claimed by goalkeeper Andrew McCorkell in the nick of time with Murray lurking at the far post. GFC won it back quickly, with Liam Mahon eventually getting a low shot off on the edge of the area that was blocked.
The Northwood defence then misjudged Jacob Fallaize’s diagonal ball towards the left channel and Danny Hale seized onto it, but the angle meant scoring was always going to be a tough ask and McCorkell fielded it.
It was fully merited when the Green Lions got the opener on eight minutes. The hosts kept the pressure on from a corner and restarted play quickly with a throw and Kieran Mahon muscled his way into enough space to arrow a cross that hung perfectly for Murray to leap and nod it home (below).
That finally stung Northwood into life but GFC’s defence still looked relatively comfortable dealing with the threat in the first half. Two minutes after the goal, Luke Tingey’s long looped throw bounced straight on top of the crossbar, with the loose ball headed off the line and eventually scrambled away. Jake Tabor initially did well to keep possession on the byline but as he jinked into the area, hit the deck clearly looking for a penalty. The referee wasn’t buying it and booked him for diving.
Sydney Ibie was a little surprised to find a recycled corner reach him at the far post on 19 minutes after Dodd couldn’t quite leap high enough to head away, and the ball bounced off him and safely behind.
Addison was called into action for the first time on 28 minutes, grateful that the shot was straight at him as Tabor cut in from the left and arrowed one towards goal. He struck it well but Addison was able to hold.
One of Guernsey main attacking threats is the aerial prowess they now possess at set pieces, especially with Fallaize around. Shortly after the half-hour, Hale found him with a whipped free-kick into the box, but the centre-back couldn’t quite get enough purchase on the ball as he stopped to head it, and the ball bounced well wide.
Addison was alert to pounce on Juwon Akintunde’s low ball across the box just before it could reach Ibie foe a simple tap in. He then punched away from almost under his own crossbar under pressure from Ibie and held Harry Gallagher’s flicked header towards goal.
The latter part of the first half set the tone for the second as Northwood really went for it. Gallagher should have done better as he found himself free at the far post after was sent back into the area, but he headed over.
However, the visitors did level on the hour mark. Gallagher was involved again, as he attacked down the right. Ronan Hutchins saw his shot blocked, but it fell for Riccardo Alexander-Greenway, who drove home a low effort from the edge of the area.
Substitute Josh Helmore made an instant impact as he entered the game within three minutes of the equaliser. Less than a minute into his introduction, he drove narrowly over the top from 18 yards.
The Wood turn the game around at the midway point of the half. It came from a clever corner delivered low towards the near post. It was flicked back from the byline into the path of James Gurteen, who nodded in from close range, just out of reach of Addison’s fingertips.
Guernsey had to find the right balance now as they needed to attack whilst ensuring they didn’t concede a third goal that would kill the game. Addison kept them in it on 70 minutes with an excellent save, diverting Tabor’s shot wide after Northwood had switched play to the right and Gallagher volleyed across goal.
Gallagher was foiled again by Addison on 77 minutes. He struck it well but it was right down the throat of the Guernsey keeper, who held.
Micah Jackson kept a ball into the box alive for Tabor on 80 minutes, with the wideman flashing a shot across goal.
Fallaize once again proved his side’s biggest threat on set pieces and he had two chances in the final minutes, flicking on Jamie Dodd’s long throw towards the far corner only for McCorkell to claim it, then heading over another Dodd looper.
Tom Dodds made a great block to prevent Helmore from tucking home the clincher after good work by Ibie on the byline as the game approached injury time, and the same player blazed over when it was easier to score from Ibie’s pullback.
Ibie, ever the danger man, also saw a dipping free-kick whistle just over the crossbar.
The final whistle sparked huge celebrations from the visitors, who knew how hard they had to work for the three points.
Saturday’s other results were as follows: Basingstoke Town 4-2 Tooting & Mitcham United, Bedfont Sports 0-2 South Park, Chipstead 2-0 Chertsey Town, Hanworth Villa 3-1 Sutton Common Rovers, Leatherhead 0-2 Marlow, Southall 2-1 Binfield, Thatcham Town 1-1 Merstham, Walton & Hersham 2-1 Westfield.
Guernsey: 1 Josh Addison; 2 Keanu Marsh (14 Brandon Wallace, 81’); 3 Jamie Dodd (c); 4 Tom Dodds, 5 Jacob Fallaize, 6 Kieran Mahon; 7 Dave Merris (15 Keene Domaille, 71’); 8 Liam Mahon; 9 Sam Murray; 10 Danny Hale (12 Matt Loaring, 75’); 11 Tom Vaudin. Not used: 13 Jason Martin.
Booked: Dodd, K Mahon.
Northwood: 1 Andrew McCorkell; 2 Harry Gallagher; 3 Brandon Kalu; 4 Riccardo Alexander-Greenway; 5 Luke Tingey (c); 6 James Gurteen; 7 Ronan Hutchins (14 Josh Helmore, 64’); 8 Jake Tabor (15 Romario Jonas, 90’); 9 Juwon Akintunde (16 Micah Jackson, 79’); 10 Sydney Ibie; 11 Carl Stewart. Not used: 12 Andy Lomas; 17 Joe Reade.
Booked: Tabor, Gurteen, Akintunde.
Highlights will be available on GFCTV soon.