SOUTHALL 1 (Kwabena 27')
GUERNSEY 1 (Wallbridge 63')
A third 1-1 draw in four games for Guernsey felt very different to the last time.
The previous two should have been home bankers, this one was earned out of pure spirit and against the odds.
With three players dropping out the 15-man squad at too short notice to bring in replacements, the Green Lions took on one of the league’s most in-form sides with just one substitute available and a side full of youngsters. The hosts were fully expecting to stroll through this one but were instead denied top spot.
Tony Vance’s side held on after Owen Wallbridge’s first goal of the club midway through the second half levelled it up, and there was a great sense of relief at the final whistle.
Tom Dodds had to be deployed as a centre-back alongside Tom Vaudin, despite hardly having any minutes to regain fitness, and performed manfully as part of a resolute backline that had to cope with 21-goal attacker Jaden Thompson-Brissett.
It looked like the Sarnians were in for a long afternoon as Dave Merris deflected Thompson-Brissett’s strike onto the bar inside just three minutes, but there were signs GFC could snatch something, with Michael Edegbe required to hold Charlton Gauvain’s free-kick on six minutes.
Jack Griffin was inches away from getting on the end of a cross from Niall Hainsworth, while Josh Addison was alert to gather as Kevin Songolo met a delivery to the far post.
It was debutant Obed Kwabena rather than the prolific Thompson-Brissit that got the opener on 27 minutes, the number eight picking out the far corner from the edge of the box that bounced awkwardly past Addison.
Addison was to come to his side’s rescue on several occasions throughout the afternoon, though, next diving full stretch to deny Thompson-Brissett on 38 minutes.
Guernsey were able to keep things relatively tight against their high-flying hosts, biding their time for an opening or a mistake. And they were presented with just that shortly after the hour as Southall stroked the ball around, seemingly with no danger. But Kevin Diomande’s pass back to Edegbe was woefully underhit, allowing Wallbridge to nip in and slide the ball into the far corner for his maiden Guernsey strike, his season just getting better after helping the Guernsey U21s to Muratti victory last weekend.
Now there was every chance for GFC to go one better. Seb Vance forced Edegbe into a save with the effort from the edge of a congested box, and the Southall stopper then kept out Charlton Gauvain.
But Addison went one better than his opposite number just moments later, flinging himself to his left to prevent Dimitris Savva taking advantage of space at the edge of the box.
Captain for the day Dave Rihoy cleared the crossbar at the end of a corner routine, and there was one final scare for Guernsey in injury time as substitute Tariq Khalifa-Salim’s looked to pick out the bottom corner after a scramble on the edge of the box but it crept just wide to Addison’s right.
A couple more wayward efforts from the hosts in the final few moments completed the afternoon’s action, this time a point gained rather than two dropped.
Guernsey remain 20th in Isthmian South Central, with Saturday’s other results as follows: Corinthian-Casuals 1-0 Hanworth Villa, Leatherhead 1-0 Ashford Town, Sutton Common Rovers 4-1 Binfield, Thatcham Town 0-0 Raynes Park Vale, Uxbridge 3-0 Badshot Lea, Westfield 3-1 Chipstead.
Southall: 1 Michael EDEGBE; 2 Kevin DIOMANDE; 3 Azeez ALABI; 4 Ryan HOPE; 5 Abdul NUREIN; 6 Dimitris SAVVA; 7 Jaden THOMPSON-BRISSETT; 8 Obed KWABENA; 9 Kevin SONGOLO; 10 Luke HENEGHAN (14 Tariq KHALIFA-SALIM, 67’); 11 Frankie TAYLOR. Not used: 12 Nabil EL-GHAIDOUNI; 15 Carl PEARCE; 16 James McCLUSKEY; 17 Lewis PUTMAN.
Guernsey: 1 Josh ADDISON; 2 Niall HAINSWORTH; 3 Dave MERRIS; 4 Tom DODDS; 5 Tom VAUDIN; 6 Seb VANCE; 7 Charlton GAUVAIN; 8 Dave RIHOY (c); 9 Sam MURRAY; 10 Owen WALLBRIDGE (12 Brandon WALLACE, 81’); 11 Jack GRIFFIN.
Booked: Murray, Wallbridge.
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