Rovers steal all 3 points with two late goals from the bench against Guernsey
After a humiliating defeat away at the hands of Marlow on Bank Holiday Monday it was important that Rovers bounce back and put in a shift to be proud of against Guernsey’s Green Lions. This would be a tough call to make, as the history between these two sides dictates that, on their four previous encounters, Rovers have yet to take a point from Guernsey, and have scored just the once.
Rovers’ line-up today sees the return of Courtney Swaby and the prodigal Matt Tanton, with James Dillon, Danny Divine, Antonio Simeone and Bertie Lloyd in defence, Ben Holden, Jordan Wilson and Charlie Martin in mid-field, Aaron Jenkins joining Gabriel Odunaike up front for the suspended Conan Torpey. The bench comprising of Siao Blackwood, Nabeel Ghannam, Isy Nzelo, Ashley Sheppard and Louie Erotokritos-Staussi.
From the start an early attack on the Guernsey penalty area, Gabriel Odunaike robbed his man and slips the ball to Aaron Jenkins, whose tricky feet in the inside the box won a corner. Courtney Swaby takes but its headed away as far as Matt Tanton who recycles back to Swaby. His cross was perfect for Antonio Simeone, but the header was over the bar. Rovers started like they have a point to prove.
In the 8th minute, Rovers lost possession in the middle of the park, the ball pushed out to Samuel Murray on the right catching us on the break. Murray was quick to produce an exquisite cross toward Charlton Gauvain, who squeezed between our two central defenders to head past James Dillon. This wasn’t the start we were looking for, perhaps too eager to open the scoring, we took our eye off the ball.
The next ten or so minutes saw Rovers press for an equaliser. The exchanges between Odunaike, Jenkins and Swaby on the left side were clearly exposing frailties in the Guernsey defence, Jenkins able to get a couple of shots away, which the Guernsey keeper managed to deal with, resulting in a succession of corners for Rovers. Somehow Guernsey hang onto their lead, but the pressure from Rovers was mounting.
A poor clearance the provides a golden opportunity for the Green Lions to make it two nil, the no9 Murray slips the offside trap and is one on one with Dillon, the striker goes right, but Dillon second guesses and saves with an outstretched left hand.
With the game swinging from end to end, both teams were seeking out chances. Simeone loops a pass over the top, which Odunaike brings down and turns his man, setting Jenkins off goal bound. His shot is deflected out for another corner. The cross is headed clear, but straight back to Swaby, who heads out to Jordan Wilson outside the penalty area. Wilson pushes the ball to his right foot, then lofts the ball from a full 20yds, beating the keeper but goes out by way of the crossbar. Minutes later Wilson comes close again, after a clever one-two with Odunaike, Wilson presses just inside the box, but his shot is just wide of the left post.
On 42mins our chance to finally pull one back. Wilson and Jenkins link up just inside the 18yd box, Jenkins turns but is tripped, giving the Referee no choice but to award a penalty. Jenkins steps up and shoots right, but keeper Josh Addison gets an arm on it, Jenkins couldn’t connect with the follow-up and the loose ball is scambled clear – chance gone. Swaby then picks up a caution by impeding the subsequent break by Guernsey.
From a Dillon goal-kick Charlie Martin brings the ball down about 40yds out, controls the ball onto his right foot, and curls a shot to the keeper’s right, only to be denied by the upright. As the half came to a close, the Guernsey no7 Charlton Gauvain was cautioned for time wasting.
The heroics of the Guernsey keeper maintained their one nil lead going into the break, and with the woodwork living a charmed life, the crossbar and both posts were stopping anything he was unable to reach.
A slow and ponderous restart from Guernsey, as you would expect, already protecting their lead. Rovers continue as they left off with further pressure from Swaby, Jenkins and Odunaike – but just not finding the finish they need.
From a corner Wilson shoots just wide of the post after Swaby’s cross was headed out. A great ball from Divine sets Odunaike off, but cleared out to touch by two defenders. Divine takes the throw, Odunaike shields down for Ben Holden to shoot, but his effort ricochets away for yet another corner. Guernsey make their first substitutions on 60 and 63mins William Fazakerley replacing Keene Domaille and David Merris replacing Joe Alvarez.
A foul on Jenkins in a goalscoring position earned Kieran Mohan a caution on 68mins. Simeone and Jenkins prepare to take, but Jenkins crashes the ball against the wall. From the rebound Tanton crosses but just too long for Simeone.
At this point the Rovers dug-out considered fresh legs were required, Nabeel Ghannam replacing Martin. A free kick to Rovers saw Bertie Lloyd head down to Odunaike who turns, but his shot is fired wide. On 69mins further subs from Guernsey, Brandon Wallace replacing Dave Rihoy, and on
74mins for Rovers, Siao Blackwood replacing Ben Holden.
Rovers now had all the possession and pressing hard for a hint of an equaliser, with no real reply from Guernsey. A good run by Divine on the right, sets up Ghannam, who skilfully brings the ball under control as he as he advances into the box, his shot demanding a great save from Addison.
On 82’ Ashley Sheppard replaces Jordan Wilson, and is immediately brought into the action playing Ghannam in with a chance, but his shot is wide.
As the clock ticked down into injury-time it was looking like Guernsey’s record would stand, but no! With 5mins over the 90, another driving run from Divine on the right sees his cross headed clear, but Siao Blackwood heads back into the box for Odunaike to chest down into the path of Ghannam. Ghannam’s strike hits home. Surely this secures our first ever point against Guernsey?
One minute later, a Tanton clearance on the left finds Odunaike just inside the Guernsey half. He brings the ball down and pings a pass to Ghannam on the overlap. Ghannam’s charge into the box was thwarted by the Guernsey defence, but the loose ball is right in the path of Sheppard on the follow-up. His first time shot from 20yds was a gem. No-one is going to stop that! 2-1 in virtually the last minute of the game.
All the hard work and enterprise finally paid off. With an inspired choice of substitutions, and a game that played out with all the hallmarks of a latter day Bond movie, a blockbuster explosive finish to a game that will live long in the memory. Half expected Daniel Craig to appear pitchside and announce “It’s done, M, it’s done”. That ghost is now well and truly laid to rest