As the sun decided to shine minutes before the kick-off on what had been a wet and miserable Saturday, the Reserves could have been forgiven for thinking that the timely appearance of the great yellow ball in the sky was an omen for a positive result to come, however…..
The Reserves gave first appearances of the season to U18 stalwarts Jake Hutchenson and Steven Le Maistre, their presence in the side adding both promise and youthfulness to our mature Reserve team. The game started well for the team with plenty of early possession predominantly in the oppositions half of the field. Our early domination was nearly rewarded when the elusive Richard Streets appeared to have been put through down the left wing after a lovely clipped ball by left back Gavin Toudic only for the linesman to raise his flag for a very tight off side decision. Richard, undeterred by the flag moments before, made a menance of himself down the left wing again after a few quick passes out of defence. His persistence and the threatening movement of Hutchenson meant the ball found its way to the feet of Jay Lynch on the edge of the Rozel penalty area. Jay had a good first touch and finished with a plomb passed the on rushing Rozel keeper. 1-0!
A few minutes later towering centre-back Steven Le Maistre, playing his first senior game for the club, challenged two Rozel attackers for the ball from a lofted corner and ended up flat on his back with a bleeding nose having clashed heads with one of the opposition. Whilst Steven was receiving some treatment on the side lines by yours truly, Rozel won a soft free kick several yards out of our penalty area on the left wing. The resulting free kick was whipped in by a right footed Rozel player and the ball rather fortuitously evaded all the players in the penalty area, including our man between the sticks- Joel Graves, and dropped into the net. I don’t believe that the Rozel freekick taker could claim he meant it, 1-1 at halftime.
Having controlled long periods of the first half the team was confident that it could push on and claim all 3 points. However, Rozel started the second half with more purpose and it quickly became apparent that they weren’t just going to roll ove; but Rozel’s increased work-rate and pressure did not appear to be causing too many problems going forward, Jamie Roberts and Steven Le Maistre equipping themselves well at the heart of the St Peter defence. With around 20 minutes palyed of the second half, some good play down the right-hand side found Jay Lynch with the ball at his feet 30 yards from goal in the centre of the pitch. Jay played a well weighted through-ball to Richard Streets coming in the from the left wing who controlled well and slotted a cool finish underneath the Rozel keeper. 2-1!
Minutes later the ball was crossed to the edge of the Rozel penalty area, the ball evading all the Rozel defenders and it should have been “meat and drink” for the Rozel keeper. However, the keeper must have been distracted by the run of Lynch and somehow he conspired to fumble the ball. Lynch was onto the loose ball in a flash but before he managed to get a shot away the keeper appeared to wrap an arm around Lynch and bring him down – surely a penalty! To the amazement of the majority of the onlookers the referee saw nothing in it and waved play on.
This stroke of luck for Rozel seemed to galvanise them and with about 15 minutes to go a pass into the feet of one of Rozel’s strikers allowed him to cleverly roll around the challenge of Steven Le Maistre and get one-on-one with Graves. The Rozel man, who at that point was favourite to score, slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the net, 2-2!
That goal took the wind out of our sails and for the reamining minutes of the game Rozel pressed hardest for the win. After a few corners in relatively quick succession, the killer blow was finally struck. A corner kick was curled in from the right hand side and as Graves tried to come for the ball his movement appeared to be impeded by one of the Rozel players. However the infringement wasn’t spotted and our poor attempts to clear the ball led to a shot being fired towards goal from around the penalty spot. Graves made an excellent save but such was the ferocity of the shot, he was unable to do more than parry the ball straight back out and the ball fell to the feet of the Rozel No.10 who smashed the ball into the back of the net, 2-3 Rozel. A few minutes later the final whistle was blown.
The result was frustrating especially because last week our performance against St Brelade was below par but we came away with all 3 points. I believe that a draw would have been a fair result on this occasion as we played well for long periods of the game but credit must go to Rozel who stuck to their task and snatched all 3 points at the end. Despite the result it was good to have a couple of the U18s in the starting 11 who both equipped thesmelves well in what was a tough match in the end. Steven Le Maistre’s performance was especially pleasing given that it was his first in senior football and I’m sure there is more to come from both him and Jake over the season – well done lads!
Joel Graves, Jeremy Johnson, Gavin Toudic, Jamie Roberts, Steven Le Maistre (U18), Richard Streets, Jon Jefferson, Dan Parry, David Streets, Jay Lynch, Jake Hutchenson (U18), Rob Cameron, Richard Stilwell, Harvey Austin-Vautier
Richard Streets, Jay Lynch.