Two games in two days for Alderney to start the Month with mixed success. On a damp night at Corbet Field on Friday they overwhelmed Vale Recreation with two goals in each half. Joe Blackham started the ball rolling with a cool finish after just six minutes and Marian Staite added a second midway through the half. A sublime pass by Staite and superb finish by Ross Benfield made it three on the restart and the skipper completed the scoring by converting a penalty after he himself had been brought down in the box. Credit to all, especially the match officials, for getting the game played – I can think of a number of referees of the same standard on the Mainland who would have decided otherwise. Fifteen hours later and a sunny and windy Port Soif and a game heavily marred, if not influenced, by refereeing that can only be described as eccentric! Yellow cards were waved at all and sundry for reasons that were not always obvious and, on some occasions, plain stupid yet the worst challenge of the afternoon – a two footed lunge at Marian Staite – went unpunished. Rovers opened the scoring from a soft free kick, though perhaps the Alderney wall should have done better, and the visitors equalised on the stroke of half time when Steve Concanen headed home a Josh Concanen free kick. In the second half a neat volley from a right-wing cross restored the home side’s lead before Josh Concanen produced another precise free kick which Jermaine Parry headed home to level the scores again. That looked it, and a draw would probably have been a fair result, until the home side’s Oluwatobi Oluwarode, who had a first-class game throughout, lashed home a loose ball following a corner as the game moved in to injury time. Cruel for Alderney who now find themselves three points behind St Martins with a game in hand. In the other match played on the Saturday Northerners won eight one at Rangers. Two games on the 10th with Northerners following up their win over Rangers with three more points after defeating Belgrave Wanderers by the odd goal in three at The Track. More importantly from Alderney’s point of view St. Martins won four one at Manzur meaning they are now six points clear having played the same number of games.
The middle of the month saw two games on the 20th with contrasting results. St. Martins went down two one at home to Northerners and Rovers defeated Manzur nine nil. These results reflect on Alderney as with two games in hand on St Martins – in one the two teams meet – even if they win both St.Martins superior goal difference will give them the Title. But there is danger from below so to speak with Alderney now needing to win one of the two games to avert the possibility of being passed by Rovers and or Vale Recreation for second spot. So, all to play for right to the end.
The last week of the season and two midweek games saw Rovers win by the odd goal in three at Northerners and Belgrave Wanderers finish a disappointing season with a point in a two all draw at Vale Rec before Alderney rather took centre stage by appearing in the final two games that would complete the League Programme. On the Friday evening they obtained the point they needed to ensure second place with a convincing five two victory at Rangers. Ross Benfield gave them an early lead from the penalty spot added a second from open play and two goals from Josh Concanen and a Dante Walker special completed the evening. Fifteen hours later and what for a long time looked as though it was to be the Title decider before St. Martins just got the upper hand leading in to the match, but Alderney again showed their immense spirit as another goal from skipper Ross Benfield saw the match finish all square at one goal apiece and left the top of the table looking so:-
Compare this with last season when Alderney finished seventh with a record that read
24 8 4 12 -20 28
and the improvement is immense and highly credible.
I am still amazed at the commitment shown through the season by the players and all at the Club – and one place better next season?