It took a penalty shoot-out to separate the two islands in the second Crown Dependency Derby of pre-season as Guernsey narrowly claimed the inaugural Skipton Cup at Footes Lane on Saturday night.
Ross Allen’s first-half strike was cancelled out in the second half by Isle of Man substitute Sean Doyle just before the hour, and after the first two were missed, the rest of the spotkicks were confidently dispatched by either side until Josh Addison saved from Luke Murray in sudden death.
A strong second half performance from the visitors perhaps deserved a second goal but the home defence stood relatively firm under pressure.
The win also meant that the Green Lions have won the Mike Thomas Memorial Trophy for the first time since 2015.
With the Green Lions keen to put in a strong performance in front of their home fans for the first time in months after losing in Douglas in mid-August, Tony Vance’s side, sporting their slick new home strip, were positive from the off.
Will Fazakerley was played in by Allen inside a minute but saw his shot beaten away by Dean Kearns. The number nine then dragged wide frim Tom De La Mare’s pull-back within another minute. He went for the spectacular on 12 minutes with a speculative scissor-kick from Thomas Dodds’ high delivery, but his effort flew wide.
It was all Guernsey in the opening 15 minutes, with Tom Strawbridge, who was later awarded Man-of-the-Match, heading side from a corner towards the far post.
Addison’s first test came on 17 minutes when he claimed Ste Whitley’s low show following a pinpoint volleyed cross from the left by Ciaran McNulty. Two minutes later, he got behind it again to again deny Whitley, this time from outside the box with a low shot.
Fazakerley was causing bother again as he hooked a bouncing ball high and wide, and GFC’s pressure paid off on 34 minutes as they took the lead.
Jamie Dodd delivered a high free-kick to the far post. Fazakerley rose to head it back across the six-yard box, where Allen was perfectly placed to steer a hooked effort past Kearns into the far corner.
The visitors started to come back into it as captain Frank Jones drilled a bouncing ball just wide from the edge of the area and Doyle, on early for the injured Callum Morrissey, saw his header glance off the far post having met Dan Simpson’s high cross from the left. Kearns fielded a scuffed shot from Allen from distance to end the half.
The Green Lions started the second half pretty brightly with Allen miscuing from Frank Tobin’s pull-back after the defender had won the ball back high up the pitch and driven forward.
But after that it was almost all the way of the Ravens, with Doyle heading the dangerous Whitley’s cross wide and Jones nodding over 10 minutes into the half.
Just before the hour, the visitors were deservedly level. Following a good move down the right, Whitley delivered a low cross, which Doyle controlled before drilling low past Addison from close range.
Allen came close shortly after as he met a pulled-back corner, with his half-volley whistling just over the bar. Two minute later, he cut in from the left channel and shot low towards the near post only to see Kearns get down to it.
Isle of Man came very close to a winner on 69 minutes as Simpson’s cross-come-shot was beaten away at the near post by Addison, with Jones driving just wide from the follow-up from range.
Whitley then hit a free-kick well over after a foul from Strawbridge, and a whipped delivery from a team-mate landed on top of Addison’s net.
Glenn Le Tissier almost made an immediate impact after coming on as a substitute with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, but his curling effort took a deflection which diverted it wide. At the other end, substitute Murray headed over after a mammoth throw from the right touchline by Simpson.
Guernsey almost nicked a winner themselves as the game entered the final 10 minutes when Dave Rihoy was tripped 25 yards out. Allen opted to hit his free-kick low towards the bottom-right corner but Kearns was alert and got down to his left to turn it wide. The game was getting stretch and Whitley then first just over the top from the edge of the box at the other end.
Addison fielded Murray’s effort comfortably right at the death but with neither side able to find a winner, we went to penalties.
Allen surprisingly saw the opening effort saved as Kearns dived low to his left to keep it out, but Isle of Man were unable to take advantage as Sean Quaye’s tame effort rolled wide to Addison’s left.
From then on, the quality of the spot kicks improved as Burns drilled home to Addison’s right to respond the Fazakerley’s effort into the other corner.
Le Tissier’s stuttered run up committed Kearns before he found the bottom right corner, with Doyle levelling it up again for 2-2.
Keeper Addison stepped up next and confidently found the bottom corner before a neat finish from McVey (who had scored the winner from the spot when the teams met in August), made it 3-3. A goal apiece from Frank Tobin, going top-right, and Simpson sent it to sudden death, although Addison got a touch to the latter and came close to keeping it out.
Substitute Matt Loaring also picked out the top corner to give the Green Lions the advantage once more, and Addison was then the hero as he guessed correctly in diving right, beating away Murray’s kick.
It meant Guernsey were the ones lifting the trophies at the end to cap off an entertaining night. Hopefully it won’t be too long before the next one.
Guernsey: 1 Josh Addison; 2 Frank Tobin; 3 Jamie Dodd (c) (15 Simon Geall 85’); 4 Jacob Fallaize; 5 Tom Strawbridge; 6 Thomas Dodds; 7 Liam Mahon (Dave Rihoy 65’); 8 Tom De La Mare (16 Glenn Le Tissier 74’); 9 Will Fazakerley; 10 Ross Allen; 11 Louis Graham (12 Matt Loaring 69’). Not used: 13 Jordan Kelly, 14 Steve Renouf, 18 Keanu Marsh.
Goal: Allen 33’.
Penalties: Allen (missed/saved), Fazakerley (scored), Le Tissier (scored), Addison (scored), Tobin (scored), Loaring (scored).
FC Isle of Man: 1 Dean Kearns’; 2 Adam Cooil (Alex Maitland HT); 3 Chris Cannell; 4 Sean Quaye; 5 Ryan Burns; 6 Jack McVey; 7 Ste Whitley; 8 Frank Jones (c); 9 Ciaran McNulty (16 Luke Murray 68’); 10 Callum Morrissey (17 Sean Doyle 31’); 11 Dan Simpson. Not used: Sid Batty, Jack Camarda.
Goal: Doyle 58’. Booked: Jones.
Penalties: Quaye (missed), Burns (scored), Doyle (scored), McVey (scored), Simpson (scored), Murray (missed/saved).
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