Saturday, 4 July 2015

Ynys Môn 2 v 5 Guernsey

Sunday 28th June 2015
Island Games Group B
La Rue des Vignes, St Peter
Admission: Free
Programme: N/A
Attendance: 300 (estimate)
Match Rating: 4

After my lunchtime match in St Helier, I chose to make my way to the second most developed football ground on Jersey, the home of the current champions of the Jersey Football Combination (St Peter), to watch Jersey's neighbouring island and biggest rival in action. Indeed, it would be interesting to watch Guernsey's representative team in action, with most of their players also playing for Guernsey FC, who seem to have found their level at level 8 in the English football pyramid (in the Isthmian League Division One South).

St Peter's Social and Football Club is about a 20 minute walk from Jersey Airport - parallel to the main runway - and the entrance road to the ground is virtually opposite Jersey Rugby Club's home ground. There is a small, rather intimate all seated stand straddling the half way line, with wooden railing around the rest of the ground, but with no hard standing. Green hedges line the entire ground, while behind the stand is the spacious clubhouse with a tea bar hatch. Undoubtedly the most striking feature of the ground is the sight of planes coming in to land on the runway which is only a short distance beyond one of the goals. Whereas I found Springfield Stadum to have the feel of an urban Mediterranean ground, this one had much more of a pleasantly rural, calm, traditional non-league feel.

Guernsey have a good track record at the Island Games, claiming the silver medal two years ago and the bronze medal in 2009, and have won the gold medal twice, in 2001 and 2003. Ynys Môn - otherwise known as Anglesey - have not had a good recent record in the Island Games, finishing no higher than fifth in the last five Games that they have competed in, but won the gold medal in 1999 and claimed the silver medal on three occasions previous to that.

With the warm heat of the day subsiding into a rather chilly evening during the course of the game, Guernsey took the lead on six minutes with a very good goal. Ross Allen swung a cross to the back post, Dominic Heaume headed the ball into the middle and an unmarked Craig Young swept the ball home from six yards. The rest of the half was quite even and entertaining, both sides creating presentable goalscoring opportunities, but Guernsey retained their one goal lead at half time.

The game remained very much in the balance until just after the hour mark, when Allen got on the end of a flick on, took a couple of touches, before poking the ball past the keeper.  With around ten minutes remaining, Guernsey made sure of the three points when an initial shot by Kieran Mahon was parried by the keeper straight to the feet of Allen, who gently dinked the ball over the keeper before walking the ball into the empty net. They made it four a couple of minutes later, when Glyn Dyer passed the ball low into the six yard box for Heaume to tap home. The goal of the game was then scored by Ynys Môn when a jinking run from deep by Dewi Thomas ended with a great strike past the keeper from well outside of the area. Unfortunately for Ynys Môn, Guernsey restored their four goal lead within a minute, when Kieran Mahon ran onto a through ball, and he showed excellent composure to take his time before placing the ball past the keeper and into the net, but there was still time for Ynys Môn to grab a second consolation goal. A corner was looped high to the far post, and Gareth Owen headed into the net via a sizeable deflection. 

So, a convincing win for Guernsey to open their campaign, although the scoreline was perhaps a little harsh on Ynys Môn, who looked well in the game for the first hour. There was a good, friendly atmosphere at the ground, enhanced by a sizeable contingent from Guernsey but also by a group of four men from Essex, who have chosen to support Ynys Môn throughout this tournament despite having no connection with the island. They sung throughout, adding plenty of colour and fun to the occasion, a highlight amongst their varied chants being when they sang " give me an 'l', give me an 'l' ....." for the place name Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, located on Anglesey. 

It would turn out that I watched the Gold medallists this evening, as Guernsey went on to beat Gibraltar (development squad) 4-0 in the final group game to top the group, before beating Menorca 2-1 in the semi-final and the Isle of Man 3-0 in the final. Ynys Môn ended their group stage with a 3-2 win against Gotland - coming from 0-2 down - before losing the 7th/8th position play-off to host island Jersey.

Video highlights of the goals can be found here , whist a report on the Ynys Môn fans from Essex can be found here

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