Football:Jersey play part in Christmas cracker

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An Island side playing with pride, determination and application against the professionals of French premier division side En Avant Guingamp was no more than a good crowd of over 500 could have hoped for at a cold Springfield last night.Dave Matthews’ lads delivered that much and more and as a ‘reward’ learned invaluable, if painful, lessons.’We gave them three goals,’ said Jersey manager Matthews, but it was not a moan, just a statement – and an accurate one at that.He was spot-on with his upbeat summary of his young team’s performance in a pleasingly competitive friendly fixture – the first but probably not the last meeting between Jersey and the team from Brittany.Said Matthews: ‘We did well after a nervous first ten minutes and I’d have been delighted with 3-0 at the end.

But lack of fitness was always going to tell – our lads haven’t played for two or three weeks now.’Those early nerves certainly cost Jersey dear.

Giving easy possession to to good sides is a recipe for disaster – ‘keep the ball’ Matthews and assistant coach Tim Houghton had urged their charges beforehand – and so it proved after just over a minute’s play.Stuart André’s underhit pass was intercepted by the lively Joun Jouffre and his clear run on goal ended with him driving a low shot under the advancing Jimmy Styles.Things looked grimmer still after ten minutes when Yohann Rivière galloped through a gaping hole in the centre to hit the second, although a good initial save by Styles nearly denied him.The floodgates looked open, ominously early, but Jersey steadied extremely well; Guingamp, involved in a relegation struggle back home, now having to work hard to create chances and even then finding Styles in good form.Captain Chris Andrews, not looking out of place in this company, led the revival with an industrious display and Jersey could well have reduced the deficit had striker Dave Le Roux not waited too long before shooting when well placed on the right.A lot of Guingamp’s best moves started wide on the left through the lanky and classy Pierre-Yves André, perhaps one-footed – but what a left foot! He easily had the most success in getting past an increasingly efficient Jersey rearguard.The Island side, without carving out clear chances, still offered a threat and Andrews, Luc Le Mière and Chris McNabb caused moments of concern for the Frenchmen’s rearguard.Jersey started in the same vein on the turnaround, although substitute ‘keeper Casey Hickling was forced into a good early save by Kemal Bourhani, one of seven half-time changes for Guingamp.But Jersey’s best effort, Andrews’ jinking run across the front of the box followed by a good, low left-foot shot well saved by Rigaud, was immediately followed by the killer goal from Guingamp; Bourhani’s low cross easily turned in by captain Stephane Carnot from eight yards.As Jersey began to ring the changes Hickling provided the highlight of the evening – a superb save, low to his right, from a powerful header from star striker Nicolas Goussé after a pacey cross from André.Tiredness started to tell in the final quarter, but the next two goals were clear individual errors; Stephan crashing the ball home from close range after Le Roux failed to make a routine clearance; and prolific striker Ross Crick, reintroduced after a short rest, striking a back pass rather too firmly past the advancing, and presumably calling, Hickling.There was an element of farce about the final goal too, with Jersey wasting several chances to clear before the ball rebounded off a defender for Rivière to score his second and Guingamp’s sixth.But the experimental Jersey side had much to be proud of, the crowd going home satisfied with the entertainment and effort shown from the home side and their guests alike.The distribution of Guingamp shirts to some Island youngsters at the end will have further enhanced their reputation with the Jersey public.

They will undoubtedly be welcomed back.Guingamp (rolling substitutes): Rigaud; Laspalles, Yahia, Guillaume, Ferrier, Colleau, Cabanas, Jouffre, Tchomogo, Riviere, André.

Subs: Fuentes, Kouassi, Yahia, Stephan, Le Bescond, Goussé, Bourhani, Carnot.Jersey (rolling substitutes): Jimmy Styles; James Fortune, Lee Bradshaw, Stuart André, Scott Jones, Luc Le Mière, Chris Andrews, Allan Brown, Chris McNabb, Ross Crick, Dave Le Roux.

Subs: Casey Hickling, James Prendergast, John Rutter and James Hayward.Officials: Steve Landick; Andy Bradshaw, Russell Barry.

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