HANWORTH VILLA 4 (Nicholas 6’, 29’; Merson 31’, 68’)
GUERNSEY 4 (Loaring 36’, pen 90+4’; Merris 49’; Black 70’)
Guernsey found the luck that has been deserting them all season as they produced an excellent comeback to stun Hanworth Villa.
So many times already this season the Green Lions haven’t got the results their performances have merited. This time, they should perhaps have been comfortably beaten – and it looked after half an hour like they were on for another one – but somehow came away with a point that meant they avoided a new club record run of defeats.
With a lot of talk this season about the youngsters coming through, it was three of Guernsey old heads that did the job. Matt Loaring was cool as a cucumber to tuck away the equaliser from the spot in the fourth minute of injury time. Now a GFC veteran himself, he was joined on the scoresheet by two 40-plus year-olds, which must surely lead to one of the greatest combined ages for goalscoring in senior football. Dave Merris’ stunning first goal for the club was followed by Ryan-Zico Black’s first goal for the club for more than five years.
Tony Vance will hope it marks a turning point in his side’s season, especially as key players return to fitness.
The visitors’ start couldn’t have been much worse as Kyen Nicholas bagged inside six minutes. The GFC defence was slow to react to a long throw down the line and Nicholas run onto the bouncing ball and lifted over the stranded Josh Addison.
Then came a disastrous spell around the half-hour mark that really should have been the end of the game as a contest. Nicholas lobbed Addison a second time on 29 minutes as he met Finlay McNab's cross, with an element of luck as the ball bounced off his shoulder after mistiming the headed. Then within moments of the restart, Sam Merson tried his luck first-time as a downward defensive header dropped his way 30 yards out, cutting across the ball on the half-volley.. It caught Addison by surprise, and the Guernsey stopper was unable to get a hand to it after it looped over him.
Four-nil really would have been game over, but Tom Vaudin’s brilliant goal-line block turned out to be more important than he ever could have imagined. The flick-on from Merson's throw was destined for the far corner, but Vaudin stretched every sinew to hook it away over his head despite pressure from two Hanworth players trying to bundle it over the line.
That lifeline proved to be a game changer as Loaring pulled one back on 36 minutes to give Guernsey a glimmer of hope. Sam Murray was initially denied from the angle after Loaring had closed down a clearance, and Murray cut the rebound back for Loaring to lash high into the far corner.
From Guernsey being dead and buried after half an hour, it was suddenly a contest less than five minutes into the second half. Merris couldn’t have picked a better strike for his maiden Guernsey goal if he had planned in, receiving a pass 30 yards out and letting fly into the top-right corner.
But it looked like any hope of a comeback was being snuffed out but a stunning free-kick from Merson. Just a few yards shy of the centre-circle, he spotted Addison off his line and duly sent the ball sailing in.
But suddenly, two minutes later, it was game on again. Black hasn’t registered for the Green Lions since a free-kick against Shoreham in April 2018, but he showed he hasn’t lost the magic touch met a scuffed clearance and drilled a half-volley through a crowd of bodies to find the net for 4-3.
But the drama wasn't over. It looked like the hosts were going to hold onto their three points when Guernsey got a corner deep into stoppage time. Returning substitute Charlton Gauvain met Merris' teasing delivery at the far post but Villa stopper Dean Wells made a fantastic reaction block. In the ensuing melee, the ball was forced towards goal and by Vaudin and was blocked again, but this time the appeals went up that the arm that blocked it on the line was from an outfield player this time. The referee agreed and the Green Lions had a lifeline.
Loaring shaped to go bottom left and Villa goalkeeper Dean Wells showed his hand very early, going down before the Guernseyman swung a leg at the ball, stroking the ball the other way to claim an unlikely point.
Guernsey remain second from bottom but have given themselves a chance to climb out of the relegation zone with a win over Metropolitan Police on Saturday – a real six-pointer.
Saturday's other results were as follows: Ashford Town 1-3 Marlow, Chipstead 1-0 Ascot United, Corinthian-Casuals 0-0 Binfield, Hartley Wintney 1-3 Uxbridge, Metropolitan Police 0-1 Raynes Park Vale, Northwood 2-4 Chertsey Town, South Park 5-1 Thatcham Town, Westfield 1-3 Southall.
Hanworth Villa: 1 Dean WELLS; 2 Ben GERAGHTY; 3 Louis COLLINS; 4 Sean FRASER; 5 Louis TAYLOR; 6 Matthew GBIO; 7 Theo CRAWFORD; 8 Gagendeep SAMRA (16 Seanen McKILLIP, 81’); 9 Kyen NICHOLAS (14 Bruno ROBERTSON-TINGLE, 69’); 10 Finlay McNAB (12 Oladimeji OLAJUBU, 75’); 11 Sam MERSON. Not used: 15 Aston NUNN; 17 Ben MERSON.
Guernsey: 1 Josh ADDISON; 2 Niall HAINSWORTH (15 Ryan-Zico BLACK, 69’); 3 Jamie DODD (c); 4 Joe ALVAREZ; 5 Tom VAUDIN; 6 Seb VANCE; 7 Dave MERRIS; 8 Owen WALLBRIDGE (14 Charlton GAUVAIN, 53’); 9 Sam MURRAY; 10 Keene DOMAILLE; 11 Matt LOARING.
Booked: Alvarez, Loaring.
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