A competitive game between a grass roots club side and a national team must be a rarity in football history, but that’s exactly what took place on Friday night as Ormer FC and Kenya took to the field in the Southampton Cup Shield final. As with all games in the competition Ormer were presented with a challenge on the night which would have been a completely new experience and highlighted the good, the bad and the ugly of international football.
However it was the Ormer boys who started brightest and quickly imposed their brand of pass and move football on the opposition. Width in midfield from Corey Brouard and Harvey Lihou was complemented by the willing forward runs of Ben Stevens and Alex Scott. Within the opening 10 minutes the Ormers had fashioned some great opportunities and from the last of these they took a deserved lead.
The ball was worked out of defence by Harry Tough who linked up with Alex Roussel and Joe Adams who released Alex Scott. His cross field pass into the path of Harvey Lihou allowed him to burst past the full back and cut a ball across the Kenyan penalty area. Much to the delight of the Ormers it was met by Corey Brouard who fired past the Kenyan goalkeeper. At this point there was only one team in the contest and if they had found another goal it may have been the knock out blow for Kenya.
Despite the possession and early pressure it was Kenya who found their own rhythm as the Ormers took their foot of the gas. The first warning signs of what to come was a nothing cross into the Ormer area. Alfie Bentley looked to meet the ball with his head but in misreading the flight of the ball his defensive clearance caused panic as the ball crashed back off his own cross bar. The Ormers had escaped from a problem of their own making. The chance pumped life into the Kenyan attack and their number 10 who was their outstanding player of the tournament brought his full box of tricks to the party.
Moments later his lightening feet and pace took him clear of the Ormer midfield and as defenders backed off he whipped a left footed shot which crashed off the inside of the near post and to safety. The game had turned-on its head and now it was the Ormer players on the back foot as they scrambled to keep their lead intact. Once again the number 10 was at it again, twisting and turning to create space for himself and his team mates. This time he released a pass to his attacking partner who sent a shot to the far post, but once again the woodwork came to Ormers rescue and the ball cannoned away to safety.
The charmed life of the Ormer goal almost got them to half time, but with time ticking down the number 10 weaved his magic again. This time the overlapping full back was in the right place to receive a pass inside the Ormer area and he calmly side footed past the exposed Jack Hamon. Half time 1-1.
The second half was a totally new experience for the boys from Guernsey as the Kenyans grabbed an early goal, then proceeded to use every trick in the book in an attempt to run the clock down. Remonstrating with the referee on every decision, histrionics when challenged by the Ormer players, kicking the ball away at free kicks and utilising an array of cynical challenges which resulted in 5 yellow cards of which two should have been straight reds.
The Kenyan goal early on in the second half once again came from a central forward run and as defenders backed off, the ball was fired in to the far corner giving Hamon no chance. To the immense credit of the Guernsey boys they rolled up their sleeves and set about cutting back the arrears. Once again they utilised the width of the park to good effect as they had done early in the first half and the chances started to come.
Unfortunately the ugly side of the Kenyan game raised its head as firstly Alex Roussel was pole axed in midfield as he released Lihou on the right side. After a lengthy stoppage he was able to continue. Minutes later it was Alex Scott on the receiving end as a thigh high challenge stopped him in his tracks, with the ball no where to be seen. Joe Adams was next up for some of the same treatment as he passed the ball inside to Roussel and made his way toward the penalty area, he was unceremoniously dumped to the floor. Luckily for the Kenyans the foul was so late that the referee was unable to give a decision.
The best of the Ormer chances came with 10 minutes to go when a right wing cross into the area was met by Ben Stevens 6 yards out. His effort on goal produced an outstanding save from the Kenyan keeper. Unfortunately for him his save fell into the path of Joe Adams who side footed the ball goal wards. The Ormers turned away in celebration but to their disbelief the Kenyans kicked the ball away and the referee waved play on despite the ball crossing the line.
As the clock ticked down half chances came and went for the Ormers who had to be thankful in the final moments for a fantastic one handed save from Jack Hamon. On a harsh night for the Ormers they will look back on a game that could of gone either way. No doubt they will be disappointed but this was a game and a tournament that will stand them in great stead for their future development.