Guernsey surrendered a comfortable 2-0 lead and had to settle for a draw thanks to a stoppage-time penalty at Footes Lane on Saturday.

Guernsey 2-2 Westfield

Allen 17', (pen) 38' - Hamilton 62'; Bajja (pen) 90+3'.


The Green Lions had held a commanding advantage at the break and, despite some nervy moments after Westfield had pulled one back just after the hour, could have made the game safe with a third.

But with Tony Vance’s side perhaps still getting up to speed this season, they were somewhat fatigued in the latter stages and couldn’t quite hang on. A tired leg caught Kai Hamilton in the box, allowing Samir Bajja to snatch a point deep into injury time.

Both sides showed attacking intent in the early stages. Kieran Mahon manoeuvred across the box in the fourth minute but didn’t get a clean connection on his shot, which rolled through to Harry Smart. Four minutes later, Tayshan Hayden-Smith skewed well wide from the edge of the area at the other end.

GFC’s biggest threat in the first half, before he was forced off at the break due to injury, came through Charlton Gauvain down the right wing. In the 10th minute, his driving run and clever feet saw him shuffled between two defenders to work space for the shot, but he could only find the feet of Smart from the corner of the six-yard box. The resulting corner was one of the Sarnians’ classic routines, with the ball pulled back to Kyle Smith, who drove the ball narrowly over the bar.

Josh Addison’s first test was straightforward as Ik Hill’s 25-yard drive reached him at a comfortable height at 13 minutes.

Gauvain was the architect again as the Green Lions took the lead four minutes later. The midfielder seized on a loose ball after Liam Mahon had prevented the visitors from breaking forward, and drove into the box before whipping the ball across goal from the right byline. It just needed a touch to send it in, and that touch was duly provided by captain Ross Allen, who pounced at the near post.

A lovely move across the pitch from right to left saw Matt Loaring with the chance to double the lead on 20 minutes, but his effort from the corner of the area was fielded by Smart.

Thomas Dodds stood tall to make an important block from Hayden-Smith moments later, then Addison saved his team with a fantastic reaction stop to deny Hamilton, who had been able to bring a cross down a bit too easily six yards out and belt the ball at goal from point-blank range. Addison showed top reflexes to get this right arm down to the ball and claw it away.

His next contribution was more straightforward after Hayden-Smith retrieved a loose ball and shot straight at him.

The second goal was again Gauvain’s doing on 38 minutes. He had the freedom of Footes Lane to charge down the right wing. He cut inside and was bundled into by Mergim Qarri, sending him sprawling to the deck, providing the chance for Allen to coolly find the bottom corner from the spot.

Gauvain deserved a goal himself and nearly had one just before the break as he seized onto another loose ball and danced by two defenders to get through on goal. He only had Smart to beat with his shot towards the roof of the net, but a vital hand from the away stopper diverted it onto the crossbar and behind, keeping his side in the contest.

The unfortunate loss of Gauvain to the ankle injury that had kept him out of the Thatcham Town game was a blow for the second half as Vance’s side lost a little of their attacking edge. Hayden-Smith drilled wide to Addison’s left five minutes in, while the Sarnian stopper watched Hill’s dipper veer wide just after the hour. Those came either side of Tom Strawbridge’s looping header at a corner that was claimed by Smart.

The hosts were still relatively comfortable and it was out of the blue that they saw their advantage halved on 62 minutes. Bajja’s searching ball from inside his own half was perfectly into the path of Hamilton, who lifted the bouncing ball over Addison as he came rushing out, dropping in just in time as Ben Le Tocq looked to get back and clear.

The Green Lions could have restored their cushion as Allen let a quick throw run across his body and brought a save out of Smart from 25 yards. He then exchanged passes with Loaring on the edge of the box and drove forward only to see Caleb Wright throw himself in front of the shot. Neither Allen at the near post, nor substitute Ben Acey six yards out, were then able to get on the end of Le Tocq’s low delivery, and quick intervention on the follow-up just prevented Smith from getting a shot away.

Allen then narrowly cleared the bar from another corner routine that Strawbridge dummied to create space.

Westfield had a free kick that sailed well over just moments after their goal, and further chances came in the final 10 minutes as Guernsey started to look a little leggy. Keanu Marsh’s goal-saving block denied Hamilton after a team-mate had swung at the ball and missed on the edge of the area.

The visitors thought they had their leveller on 87 minutes as Hamilton let fly from range, beating Addison with power only for the ball to crash down off the crossbar. Substitute Sheridan Campbell nodded the rebound into the corner but his celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

Acey came close to making the three points safe with less than two minutes left of the 90 as Westfield pushed up in search of an equaliser. His neat touch on the halfway line saw him poke the ball around his man and drive towards goal. But his marker recovered quickly to force the teenager into the shot from outside the area, earlier than he would have liked, and Smart was able to make what turned out to be a key save.

There were some hairy moments in injury time as Guernsey desperately defended their slender lead, but unfortunately could not hold out as Hamilton went down after contact from a tired leg of Kieran Mahon – an unlucky moment for the midfielder who had been one of the best players on the pitch up until then with a typical all-action display. There was little complaint as the referee pointed to the spot, with Bajja sending Addison the wrong way and finding the top left corner in the 93rd minute in a frustrating finish for the Green Lions.

There was just enough time for Addison to send a free-kick into the Westfield box after that, but no-one could get a telling touch and the whistle went as the visitors cleared their lines, making it the third home game in a row that GFC had dropped points from winning positions late on – they will feel they should be five or seven points better off.

Guernsey remain 16th in Isthmian South Central but still have several games in hand. Saturday’s other results were as follows: Basingstoke Town 3-2 Tooting & Mitcham United, Chalfont St Peter 3-2 Sutton Common Rovers, Northwood 1-5 South Park.

Guernsey: 1 Josh Addison; 2 Keanu Marsh; 3 Ben Le Tocq; 4 Thomas Dodds; 5 Tom Strawbridge; 6 Kieran Mahon; 7 Charlton Gauvain (15 Ben Acey HT); 8 Liam Mahon; 9 Kyle Smith (12 Robbie Legg 80’); 10 Ross Allen (c); 11 Matt Loaring (14 Louis Graham 85’). Not used: Jordan Kelly, Carlos Canha.

Booked: Strawbridge, K Mahon.

Westfield: 1 Harry Smart; 2 Kai Hamilton; 3 Ik Hill (12 Sheridan Campbell 72’); 4 Mekhail McLaughlin; 5 Samuel Evans; 6 Mergim Qarri (14 Aiden King 60’); 7 Caleb Wright; 8 Tayshan Hayden-Smith (15 Maciej Tajs 87’); 9 Samir Bajja; 10 Ryan Myers; 11 Callum Abraham Barlow. Not used: 16 Azeez Alabi.

Attendance: 817.

Highlights are available now on GFCTV.