Jersey pay penalty for ill-discipline

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JERSEY lost their first Muratti final of any age group for four years in a nail-biting and thrilling encounter at the Track, swinging from despair to ecstasy in a topsy-turvy encounter that lacked quality but offered plenty of entertainment.

Despite being two goals down at half-time, Guernsey fought back strongly towards the end of the match and a last-minute equaliser earned them extra time, at which point Jersey went down to nine men.

The Caesareans would end with just eight on the field.

Guernsey took the lead in the second half of extra time, but conceded their own late equaliser to take the game to penalties. They would end with the London Channel Islanders Society Trophy in their grasp, though, for the first time since March 2019.

Jersey scored so early that even their players did not believe it for a moment. As Guernsey failed to deal with a routine header back into their box, George Goubert tried to encourage keeper Ollie Harrison to claim it but Jersey Bulls starlet Miguel Carvalho nipped in and side-footed home.

Much of the rest of the first half was ‘typical Muratti’. As a contest, Guernsey were battling hard but unable to get any change out of the Jersey backline, and when they were not scrapping for possession in midfield, the ball was flying around in the air.

Clear-cut chances were few and far between and those that were created were often influenced by a deflection or mistake rather than good play.

The scoreline apart, there was little to choose between the sides until a fatal error from Jacques Cauvin on the stroke of half-time. He underhit his backpass to Harrison, who was slow to react and then stumbled as he got to the ball. It rolled harmlessly into space, 25 yards from goal, and Harry Scott was there first to score into an empty net.

Guernsey substitutions sparked the performance after the break – U16 Jack Griffin was a pacy irritant up top to a Jersey defence which looked sluggish but had not been put under concerted pressure.

The more Guernsey played through Griffin and the sparky Owen Wallbridge – later to be named man-of-the-match – the better they looked. With ten minutes remaining Guernsey captain Fin Du Port floated a free-kick to George McNeela, who beat Jersey goalkeeper Harry Gladdish.

Suddenly the home side came alive.

With the clock ticking towards the 90th minute, Goubert played Wallbridge through down the right and the North striker picked out Zac Batiste eight yards out.

He sparked delirium by finding the far corner.

In added time Wallbridge had the chance to win it, racing on to an awkward bouncing ball over the top but it would not come down for him and he looped an effort onto the top of the net.

Jersey left-back Fergus Boyle pulled Griffin down on halfway and received a second yellow, taking his side down to ten, and Guernsey were now genuine contenders.

The Caesarean challenge was dented again when Gladdish was shown red for bringing down Wallbridge when aiming to kick clear. Sarnian referee George Jennings consulted Jersey assistant Neil Giannoni and they agreed the contact was outside the box. Gladdish walked, taking his team down to nine.

With 15 minutes to go Guernsey were pushing for the win. A clever corner routine ended with George Goubert playing in a deep, looping cross, which four players attacked. It rolled towards the goal and Griffin bundled it in by the post before being swamped by his team-mates and the young crowd behind the goal.

The crowd barriers collapsed and the scorer had to leave the field with a bloody nose and mouth, having run into the post.

Guernsey were easing home now but, with four minutes to go, they conceded a free-kick 40 yards out. It was struck long into the box and Harrison came all the way to the edge of his area to claim the ball and, with it, the game.

But under pressure he dropped it, Guernsey failed to clear and from distance Leandro Vieira threaded a shot into the net.

Penalties were looming and yellow cards flying everywhere. Sammy Henia-Kamau, another Jersey Bull was sin-binned, taking Jersey down to eight.

Carvalho and Du Port both scored their spot kicks before Harrison saved well from Vieira. Batiste scored and when Henia-Kamau slipped as he shot over the bar, Guernsey had one hand on the trophy. But Jacob Videgrain saved from McNeela and when he also stopped Griffin’s effort things were back level.

However, the officials ruled that Videgrain, having already been warned, had stepped off his goal line too quickly and Griffin had a second opportunity which he planted down the middle of the goal.

Charlie Brennan kept Jersey in it but Jacques Cauvin calmly stroked home his effort to secure Muratti silverware for the boys in green.

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