A BRACE from Luke Campbell saw Jersey come from behind to beat Guernsey 2-1 at Footes Lane and give departing Jersey FA manager Martin Cassidy one last Muratti Vase win.
‘I am so proud of the players, coaching staff and all involved. We stuck to our game plan, dealt with whatever Guernsey threw at us, overcame the early nerves and earned another great Muratti win,’ Cassidy said.
A stop-start first-half saw both sides’ physios being called into action while the referee was also given an early decision to make by Guernsey’s Jamie Dodd, who may have been lucky to stay on the pitch for his 8th-minute lunge on Jersey striker Lorne Bickley.
Both teams had the ball in the net within a minute of each other, but Jacob Fallaize and Bickley’s efforts were ruled out before Guernsey seized the momentum.
A spell of pressure saw Jersey lucky not to fall behind with keeper Euan Van der Vliet being called into action to pull off a top-class save down to his left to deny Will Fazakerly before James Queree, Jersey’s captain, headed away a Kieran Mahon volley which seemed destined for the top corner.
But, despite the determined Jersey defence, Guernsey did find the breakthrough in the 26th minute. Jersey failed to deal with a corner and Fazakerly rose highest to nod home as Footes Lane erupted.
Jersey responded well as Adam Trotter drove forward but his shot cleared the bar. Bickley was then at the centre of an off-the-ball scuffle and received a yellow when the Guernsey players and crowd were shouting for a red.
The lead could have been doubled before the break as another Guernsey ball into the box – this time from a long throw – caused chaos in the Jersey box with Queree scrambling the ball off the line.
Cassidy’s final Muratti half-time team-talk needed to be a good one – a rallying cry to his team to ensure his last match as manager did not end in disappointment.
Jersey, perhaps feeling fortunate to be only 1-0 down at half-time, sensed their opportunity and came out for the second-half with positive intent.
A few minutes after the restart, they were gifted a golden opportunity to draw level. James Carr was kicked in the head inside the box and the referee pointed to the spot.
Luke Campbell stepped up and blasted the ball into the top corner to equalise and, after weathering the first-half storm, suddenly the momentum was with the side in red.
Bickley, Queree, Trotter and Carr all fashioned chances but could not find the net.
Guernsey striker Ross Allen saw his curling effort go just wide while Jonny Le Quesne’s volleyed effort flew just past the post at the other end.
It was defender Campbell who provided the game’s match-winning moment with just over 15 minutes to play. Francis Lekimamati floated a ball into the box that was just too high for Bickley but Campbell was on hand to poke the ball past the onrushing Guernsey keeper Josh Addison.
Toby Ritzema had a good chance to bag Jersey’s third after good link-up play down the left between Jay Giles and substitute Miguel Carvalho but the midfielder saw his shot go wide.
But there was still plenty of time for Guernsey – nine minutes of stoppage time to be exact – as Jersey began to sit a bit deeper and protect their slender lead.
The Sarnians thought they had forced extra-time when Allen lifted the ball over Van der Vliet but Jersey were saved by the linesman flagging for offside.
Seconds later, the full-time whistle blew and the Jersey players, coaches, backroom staff and fans erupted in celebration.
Cassidy, whose assistant, Elliott Powell, will be in charge for the Island Games later this year, said: ‘Guernsey came out to hold the 1-0 and that is the worst thing they could have done as we came out from half-time and attacked them down the wings and in the end we could have won by a bigger margin.
‘I would like to dedicate this win to Mickey Porter. He was big in my coaching career and helped me a lot. My time as Jersey coach has been a long but enjoyable road. I have enjoyed the transition between the two squads I have coached in my time and I really trust the younger players in the big games.’
‘I hope I have helped the players along the way and after the result today Elliot and the squad can be super confident going into the Island Games.
‘The future is bright for these guys.’