Heartbreak in Rome

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IT was a story of ‘what could have been’ for Martin Cassidy’s JFA Combination side in Italy yesterday.

The chances were there for Jersey’s best to see off Macedonia Del Nord in Rome and create history. They were one goal away from becoming the first English side to reach the Uefa Regions’ Cup finals. Ever.

Jake Prince even had the ball in the net in the dying embers, only for the linesman’s flag to deny him a famous winning goal.

The final whistle went and the Islanders collectively sunk to their knees. Their dream is over and qualification for the 2023 showdown instead goes to Bavaria, the German side beaten 2-1 by Jersey on Sunday afternoon.

Victory would have been enough to top the group on head-to-head record.

The Caesareans again found goals hard to come by in the opening period. In their two matches prior to this tie, all the goals scored have come in the second half.

Forward Jake Prince had the best of the chances, and was one-on-one at one stage, but his attempt to round Borche Kartov in the Macedonian goal was unsuccessful and the ball drifted harmlessly out of play.

Euan Van Der Vliet was called into action on a couple of occasions, but the stops proved rudimentary.

Oddly, Macedonia chose to bring three defenders on at the beginning of the second half and invited Jersey pressure from the outset.

James Carr had a golden opportunity inside the box following an Adam Trotter pass, but his shot was well saved.

The Islanders huffed and puffed, but still the goal would not come, as their opponents looked increasingly content with a point.

As the half progressed, the pace became frenetic, Cassidy’s men aware of the significance of a goal.

The clock struck 90 minutes when Prince latched on to a pass 12 yards out, coolly slotting home, before the agony of the referees flag rendered him offside.

Van Der Vliet was given his orders to head up for stoppage time set-pieces, rising highest of all to flick on before yet another chance was blocked.

For all of their efforts, there was little reward, but the heads will not remain in their hands for too long.

The Jersey boys, representing England for the first time in a decade, have done their Island proud.

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