Guernsey 2-2 Thatcham Town

Loaring 17’; Martin 59’ - K Mahon (og) 44’; Fosu 73’.

Guernsey were pegged back twice and were made to work hard to earn a point at home to Thatcham Town last Saturday.

A first goal of the season from Matt Loaring and a thumping effort from Tom Martin with his first touch off the bench, his second for the club and first since his return to the club set-up, twice gave the Green Lions the advantage. 

It wasn’t the most polished performance of the season from Tony Vance’s side but it is another important step in getting up to speed with the rest of the division.

An ankle injury to birthday boy Charlton Gauvain meant there was a first start for teenager Ben Acey, who had previously shown encouraging signs in four substitute appearances, while Frank Tobin’s absence provided a first start of the season for Keanu Marsh.

GFC came close to the early breakthrough as Kyle Smith was played into the channel by Ross Allen but his square ball was cleared just before Kieran Mahon could run onto it. 

Ben Le Tocq blocked a volley at the other end, while Tom Strawbridge threw himself in the way of Daniel Fosu’s strike as he met a corner to the far post. Set pieces were clearly a forte of the visitors as Fosu then saw a shot across goal deflected wide. 

Smith was denied by a tight offside call as he exchanged passes with Allen and finished coolly past William Wyatt. 

Josh Addison made himself big at his near post to deny Fosu from the angle, after the defence went to sleep and left him in space to meet a free-kick, with Guernsey eventually clearing the danger.

That proved to be an important save as Guernsey went in front soon after. Kyle Smith chased a through ball and got there ahead of the onrushing Wyatt. With the goalkeeper and defence retreating, Smith pulled the ball back across goal but Wyatt pushed it away virtually from under the feet of Allen and Loaring. But Thatcham could not fully clear their lines and Kieran Mahon’s challenge with Lamar Koroma allowed brother Liam to pick up the loose ball and return it to the area. Two defenders missed the chance to clear, with Loaring waiting to pounce, controlling and firing home from six yards.

Allen could have made it two a couple of minutes later as he made his trademark run into the channel to pick up Le Tocq’s free-kick and chopped inside the defender, but got underneath the shot as he lashed it towards the far top corner and saw it fly high
and wide.

After a shaky start possession-wise, the Green Lions were now playing with a lot more confidence and another free-kick routine almost paid dividends as Kieran Mahon picked out Allen from the right, but the GFC skipper could only help it wide at the near post.

Guernsey were unlucky to lose the services of Smith to injury before the half was out, with Robbie Legg brought on to replace him. The visitors also saw Wyatt forced off as a concussion precaution, with Kai Stubbs-Alleyne donning the Thatcham gloves for the second half.

But there was more action to happen before the break as, shortly before his withdrawal, Wyatt pushed over as Kieran Mahon struck a rising drive at goal, with the visitors then getting back on level terms just moments before the break from a set-piece.

An in-swinging corner was headed down inside the six-yard box and in the scramble to clear, the ball bounced off the leg of Kieran Mahon and rolled in.

Addison rushed out to stop Alex Miller getting a decent shot away as the Kingfishers ended the half with the wind in their sails, although Legg had the ball taken off his toes as he looked to get on the end of Strawbridge’s knockdown at the other end.

Stubbs-Alleyne’s first major task early in the second half was to deny Allen, who started the move off by pinching the ball off Koroma on the half-way line and finding Legg down the left. Legg’s scooped cross picked out Allen’s bursting run into the box but the stand-in stopper got to Allen to stop the number 10 having a clear strike at goal, with the striker then only finding the foot of the post from the angle as he took a swipe at the loose ball when on the floor.

Fosu just missed out on getting to Nathan Jones’ ball stood up to the far post, while Legg cut in from the left at the other end only to see his shot fielded at the near post by Stubbs-Alleyne.

The Sarnians were let off the hook twice in the space of 30 seconds as Lamin Ceesay stuck out a leg to connect with Glenn Gabriel’s cross but saw his effort bounce back off the crossbar. From the resulting throw, Fosu shrugged off the attentions of Marsh to get a low shot off, which Addison turned onto the foot of the post, before gratefully clutching the rebound.

Within moments of nearly falling behind, the Green Lions were back in front from an inspired change. Martin had only replaced Acey a minute or so earlier when Kieran Mahon teed him up from Loaring’s pull-back from the opposite byline, but showed no signs
of rustiness as he drove the ball back towards goal from 20 yards out with such power that Stubbs-Alleyne could only help the ball on its way as it flew into the net.

William Edwards was alert to turn the ball behind with Legg waiting to pounce on Martin’s low cross shortly after, but there was still danger at the other end when Ceesay should have turned in a flick-on to the far post and Thomas Dodds came to the rescue to block Ceesay’s route to goal after Marsh had misjudged a high ball.

But the Green Lions couldn’t stand up to the increasing pressure much longer as a couple of minutes later, just before the game entered the final quarter-hour, the Kingfishers struck again to level it up for a second time. As a ball was played low into the box, Gabriel worked space away from Strawbridge for the shot from the angle. Addison was well placed to block but Cameron Rohart-Brown nicked the ball back off Loaring, with the resulting scramble falling
to Fosu to fire home.

Harry Harvey got his feet all wrong to slice a shot out for a throw-in when well placed in the box, but there was little else to shout about in the closing stages and the teams had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Guernsey remain 16th in Isthmian South-Central, with the weekend’s other results as follows: Ashford Town 2-1 Tooting & Mitcham United, Bedfont Sports 2-0 Northwood, Bracknell Town 2-1 Baskingstoke Town, Chertsey Town 2-1 Marlow, Hanwell Town 3-0 Chalfont St Peter, Staines Town 0-2 South Park, Sutton Common Rovers 2-3 Binfield, Uxbridge 2-1 Chipstead.

Guernsey: 1 Josh Addison; 2 Keanu Marsh; 3 Ben Le Tocq (15 Louis Graham 85’); 4 Thomas Dodds; 5 Tom Strawbridge; 6 Kieran Mahon; 7 Ben Acey (14 Tom Martin 58’); 8 Liam Mahon; 9 Kyle Smith (12 Robbie Legg 39’); 10 Ross Allen (c); 11 Matt Loaring. Not used: Jordan Kelly.

Booked: Strawbridge, Le Tocq.

Thatcham Town: 1 William Wyatt (17 Kai Stubbs-Alleyne, HT); 2 Clive Gwavava; 3 Cameron Rohart-Brown; 4 Lamar Koroma (15 Zeid Hannachi 68’); 5 William Edwards; 18 Joshua Edwards (c); 7 Alex Miller (16 Harry Harvey 62’); 8 Nathan Jones; 9 Glenn Gabriel; 10 Daniel Fosu; 11 Lamin Ceesay. Not used: 12 Luke Donville; 14 Lewis Chapman.

Booked: Edwards, Jones.

Attendance: 754.

Highlights are now available on GFCTV.