Despite putting hosts Ben Rhydding under immense pressure in the last 20 minutes, Investec Jersey men went down 3-2 on Saturday in the semi-final of the HA Veterans’ Plate.
In retrospect it was a game that Jersey could well have won.
Despite being put under the cosh by a strong side in the opening ten minutes, during which time former Welsh international Dave Cutter ran time and time again at the Jersey defence on the right wing, before cutting in to feed the ball to vice-captain Jonathan Till, who scored a sharply taken goal, Jersey then rallied. Jersey deservedly scored a goal of their own from Ed Daubeney, following good work by Peter Taylor.
In a see-sawing first-half Till then ran the ball past Paul Duckworth in the 25th minute, to make it 2-1, to the home side, but by the end of a very open first half there had been opportunities when either side could have scored.
In the second-half Rhydding began to dominate midfield and when they increased their lead to 3-1, in the 45th minute following a well-angled shot placed to the left of Paul Duckworth, it was no more than their efforts deserved.
But Jersey vets rallied again. The Mark Bailey, Peter Taylor, Ed Daubeney combination up front caused all kinds of problems to Rhydding who were now defending on the edge of their D. Daubeney, in particular, was making inroads as he probed away at the home defence.
So, when Taylor scored with a clean-cut shot from a short corner with 15 minutes to go, it was well deserved.
And Jersey went on to create chances to tie the score. Aaron Eager and Daubeney both went close and a Mark Bailey flick was pushed to one side with five minutes remaining. Even in the last minute of normal time a Daubeney shot which was destined for goal was pushed away by the Rhydding full-back, a foot in front of the goal-line. It was a game that neither side deserved to lose, but a game which Rhydding won purely because their defence coped so well against a vets’ attack which couldn’t break them down in the final stages during which time Ben Ryhdding’s captain Mark French was outstanding.
So although Jersey lost, they were never outclassed and the home side were more visibly delighted when the full-time whistle was blown. As Jersey captain, Paul Masterton said afterwards: ‘It was a terrific and highly competitive game.
‘Congratulations to Ben Rhydding on their win but well done to the Jersey team for playing so well in this game and throughout the competition. It was disappointing to get so far this year but not to get to the final, but next year I see no reason why we can’t enjoy an equally successful campaign.’