Goals: Gauvain 15’ - Barry 19’; Duah-Kessie 58’.
It was a new year hangover for Guernsey as they were beaten by streetwise Phoenix Sports at Footes Lane on Sunday.
Despite taking the lead, the Green Lions struggled to really get going during the game, with their passing and decision-making in the final third letting them down. Callum Stanton was clear man of the match for the hosts, his excellent stops keeping his team in the game.
It means that, for the time being, they are cut off from the play-offs and need to find the magic touch again quickly to avoid being dragged into a mid-table scrap rather than a top five chase.
Even taking a 15th- minute lead was somewhat of a false dawn, as James Dyer had already shot wayward and Tom Strawbridge had blocked a Lee Bird volley.
The opener itself came after the South Londoners had almost taken then lead. Jeff Duah-Kessie held off his marker to run onto a ball into the penalty area. He aimed for the far post with a low effort but Stanton got down quickly to palm it away. The Green Lions cleared the ball away and within seconds, it was in the back of the Phoenix net.
Left-back Lewis Clark stepped up to play Charlton Gauvain offside, but none of his fellow defenders did and Gauvain timed his run well to meet Liam Mahon’s clipped pass. Steven Phillips had rushed out of his goal to close down but the Sarnian midfielder poked it round him and despite scuffing his shot towards and empty net, it had just enough on it to bounce in off the far post for Guernsey's first goal in five games.
The lead lasted less than five minutes as George Whitelock went down after a nudge in the back from Angus Mackay. James Dyer whipped in a low free-kick from the left corner of the area, and Jack Barry got there ahead of his marker to stab it home at the near post.
After one of too many occasions GFC had surrendered possession cheaply, this time just after the half hour, Stanton was called into action again as the ball was quickly played across to Duah-Kessie. He stepped inside to shoot but Stanton got down to block the low effort.
Ashley Probets met a knockdown from a corner only for his shot to be blocked in the six-yard box, and Stanton kept his side level before the break with a great reaction stop to deny Duah-Kessie from close range after Jacob Fallaize had lost the ball and Kehinde Aileru had broken down the right.
Clark skewed well high and wide within a couple of minutes of the restart, and there was little in the way of goalmouth action until just before the hour when Phoenix turned it around.
Allen was hounded off the ball by a swarm of visiting players near the halfway line and Aileru burst pass Fallaize down the right. His low delivery across the six-yard box left Duah-Kessie with the simple task of tucking it in at the far post.
There was a brief rally from Guernsey as Matt Loaring headed wide from Gauvain’s arrowed cross and substitute Louis Graham curled an effort into the arms of Phillips after being picked out by Loaring.
Loaring then expertly brought down a high ball from Stanton and teed up Mahon, but his curler was also comfortable to Phillips to hold.
Dyer hit a cross-come-shot wide of the far post from the left of the area at the other end and only a brilliant block from Strawbridge as Aileru pulled the trigger prevented a third, coming to the rescue of his centre-back partner Fallaize who had lost out to the Phoenix wideman.
A sweet strike by Gauvain from 35 yards didn’t have enough to beat Phillips, and a scramble should perhaps have brought about an equaliser as Graham’s mishit shot almost looped into the far corner. Phillips was at full stretch to palm it away and Loaring could only poke the rebound wide via a deflection off Allen.
A poor free-kick from GFC allowed the visitors to break again. This time it was Bird who timed his run to stay onside but Stanton stood his ground to make another strong block as the number eight bore down on goal.
Another close call was not taken advantage of as Allen met a cut back corner and his shot was deflected towards the far post, with Loaring unable to get a vital touch to turn it in.
Stanton’s final action was another one-on-one block to prevent substitute Lauris Chin adding a third in the last minute, but it was to no avail as Phoenix Sports took all the points back to the mainland.
The Green Lions dropped to 10th in Isthmian South East with the weekend’s other results as follows: Burgess Hill Town 0-7 Ashford United, Cray Valey 1-2 Herne Bay, East Grinstead Town 1-2 Sittingbourne, Faversham Town 2-1 Chichester City, Ramsgate 0-1 VCD Athletic, Three Bridges 1-3 Haywards Heath Town, Whitehawk 3-0 Hythe Town, Whitstable Town 1-1 Sevenoaks Town, Whyteleafe 0-1 Hastings United.
Phoenix Sports: Steven Phillips, Jack Barry, Lewis Clark, Jack Hopkins (c), Daniel Young, Ashley Probets, George Whitelock, Lee Bird, Jeff Duah-Kessie (Gene Kennedy 88’), James Dyer (Lauris Chin 81’), Kehinde Aileru. Not used: Andrew Dythe, Mahmoud Juma.
|Shirt||Player||Yellow Cards||Red Cards||Goals|
|4||Harry Tobin (Louis Graham 46')||-||-||-|
|6||Angus Mackay (Tyler McKane 67')||1||-||-|