March 24th KO 1pm
Alderney v Guernsey FC
Muratti semi-final kindly sponsored by Hepburns Insurance
Weather: cloudy, cold and dry no wind, good conditions for football
The Muratti semi-final comes around again, a good crowd assembled at the Arsenal ground most supporting Alderney and in anticipation that this will be the year when the young team make the Final.
Guernsey kicked off attacking towards Fort Albert end and soon put the Alderney defence under some early pressure with some long throws by Dodd which caused a few early problems for the Alderney defence. Guernsey’s first corner was well claimed by Jamie Laband, hopefully this would give him confidence. The first few exchanges were fiercely contested, Alderney had their first chance on 6mins a free kick was taken by Josh Concanen the resulting delivery was just missed by Steve Concanen. Soon after this a good break down the right by Josh McCulloch who found Joe Blackham who shot just wide.
Guernsey came close to scoring the first goal of the game when on 12 mins following a long throw found the back head of Steve Concanen who so nearly scored in his own net, it forced a good save by Laband. Guernsey continued to press and apply pressure with the long throw continuing to cause problems, but some good defending and with Alderneys players throwing themselves in front of the ball. Alderneys midfield all working hard chasing down and harassing Guernsey’s players. However, on 17mins another Guernsey corner taken by Hall and scored by Strawbridge which what seemed a relatively free and strong header. 0-1
Alderney were soon back in the game and went on the attack straight away Jermaine Parry had a shot that was saved, Guernsey were starting to give away possession by conceding a few free kicks, the game remains very competitive affair. Some excellent play between Kai Bower and Joe Blackham, Joe causing problems for Guernsey when he’s on the ball. Soon it was 0-2 though a goal from nothing, it was Alderneys throw in close to their own corner flag which was won, and the ball landed to the impressive Sam Hall who from outside of the box curled a left foot shot that went into the top corner of the net just shaving the inside of the post. After the restart Guernsey continued to apply pressure and forced more corners with some neat football, Alderney were still trying desperately, blocking shots with John Adamson working hard in midfield. The ball remained in Alderneys half with more long throws causing concerns for Laband and his defence in front of him. The referee was allowing some strong challenges to stand. Josh Concanen and Damien Larkin combined well, creating some pressure from the home team and from the resulting long throw the ball nearly fell for Jermaine Parry for an attempt on goal. Some further good work down the right-hand side Josh McCulloch Alderneys strong forward created a chance for Joe Blackham on 38mins, confidence growing, with the home crowd hoping for a goal back before half time. Guernsey created the final few chances of the half, some good solid defending by captain Ross Benfield prevented a chance, and on the stroke of half time Guernsey’s Rihoy comes close to make it 0-3. Half time ends, with the home crowd hoping for a turn around in the 2nd half.
Alderney attacking the Fort Albert end of the picturesque Arsenal ground were soon out of the blocks with a good break down the right by Jermaine Parry who wins a free kick. Alderneys first corner was punched away by the keeper the home team were beginning to apply some pressure with the home crowd all hoping for an early breakthrough. Alderney continued to press with some good swift interchanges between Parry, J Concanen and Blackham and on 52 mins Kai Bower wins a free kick which ended up falling to Ross Benfield his shot just missed the right-hand post. So close in getting a goal back.
The best move of the match so far on 57 mins all involving Blackham, Larkin, Adamson another long throw flicked on by Steve Concanen just wide of the goal. Joe Blackham continued to cause problems and was consistently fouled winning free kicks which seemed every few minutes of this half. Josh McCulloch working tirelessly up front winning procession, a shot by John Adamson which was easily saved. Another free kick on Blackham on 61mins in a very good position for an attempt at goal, up stepped Josh Concanen but his effort went wide in didn’t trouble Guernsey’s keeper. Another foul on Blackham which resulted in a booking, finally, for Guernsey’s captain Coulter the home crowd gave an ironic cheer!
Larkin takes which forces a save and the resulting corner was met by Alderneys captain Benfield who hit the post with his well-directed header, so unlucky. More pressure by the home team who really are trying to get a goal back into the game, the home crowd really appreciating the efforts of the team, with Alderney dominating this half so far. Guernsey made the first substitution on 70 mins with forward Pereira being taken off. With Alderney having the majority of the 2nd half procession but still not able to claw a goal back. Frustrations for the home team which resulted on the experienced Steve Concanen received a booking a rare incursion by Guernsey into Alderneys half. McCulloch continued to put in a shift up front working well with Blackham.
Alderney sub with Adamson going off being replaced by last season’s Muratti goal scorer Sol Bower.
Another long throw and further Alderney pressure with the ball just not falling to a blue shirt for a clear chance, the crowd really appreciated the home team’s efforts and commitment and tried to get behind their team. Another Alderney sub with Kai going off replaced by Dante Walker, on 82 mins Guernsey win a contested free kick, Ross Benfield gets booked in what seems a harsh decision. Alderney continue to press yet another foul on Blackham on 84 mins the resulting free kick was parried away for a corner, the resulting corner fell to Benfield whose header hit the post again! He can’t believe his luck and holds his head. He’s now joined the forward line. Alderneys 2nd half pressure has not been rewarded with a goal they fully deserved. Ciaran Stretton replaced Joe Blackham with 4 minutes of normal time left.
On 88mins Guernsey won a corner and hit Alderneys bar it could have been 3 which would have been cruel on the home team. With time running out Laband made a great save from Rihoy his first real save of the 2nd half. The last chance of the game was created by joint man of the match McCulloch who continued to chase and harass the Guernsey defence. The game ends 0-2 warm applause from the good size crowd who really appreciated the contest. So, another year passes by with the home crowd discussing how well they played and close they came.
Alderneys joint Man of the Match Joe Blackham and Josh McCulloch who both had great games.
New caps were awarded to Kai Bower, plus Joe and Jamie Blackham received them for previous appearances when we had no caps to give out. They were presented by Alderneys Muratti legend Billy Bohan. The Muratti caps kindly sponsored by Sam Chadwick meat draw
Thank you to the Old Barn who kindly supplied the buffet for the players and officials.