SEALAND showed fighting spirit to battle back and clinch victory in a hard-fought Non-FIFA international clash with Alderney today (Saturday March 9).
Despite the sodden pitch and damp conditions, both sides produced flowing football in this open and entertaining encounter at Meades Park, Farncombe.
Against the run of play, Alderney snatched the lead on 33 minutes, as a bobbling effort from Ross Benfield caught goalkeeper Thomas McIntosh cold to trickle into the back of the net.
However, Sealand struck on the stroke of half time, as Phil Wood’s long-range shot skidded across the slippery surface and evaded goalkeeper Chris Chadney to roll over the goal line.
Sealand dominated possession during the second half, but spurned several fine opportunities to seize the lead, as a hanging header from Will Dukes hit the side netting and Alan Forsythe blasted the ball high over the bar from 25 yards.
Alderney dropped deep in an effort to soak up the pressure, offering Rob Thoregoode time and space to shoot from 30 yards, his powerful effort grazing the bar.
Sealand finally seized the initiative with 19 minutes remaining, when Ryan Moore leapt highest to beat the defence and head home a curling cross into the top right corner.
Alderney flooded forward and forced the hosts onto the back foot, yet lacked a finishing touch as McIntosh palmed away an accurate free kick and Foster fired over the bar.
Sealand should have stretched their lead during the dying moments, but after a scramble in the box, Phil Ecenone took a touch too many and missed the target from six yards.
However, the hosts hung on to earn their first international victory, the perfect preparation for their clash with the Chagos Islands in London next Wednesday (March 13).
Alderney coach Alan Adamson said: “I thought it was a good game, but the combination of my substitutions and a goalkeeping error disrupted the rhythm of the team.”
McIntosh, A Forsythe, Akinumni, N Forsythe, Wood, Codner, Little, Thoregoode, Ecenone, Darbo, Moore. Substitutes:Dukes, Stubbs, Press, Adlington.
Chadney; McCormick, A Adamson, Benfield, Aldcroft; Phelan, Concanen, Johns, Malloy, Lawrence, McCulloch.
Substitutes: McForlan, Bewen, Stretton, Foster, J Adamson.
(Roll on, roll off substitutions used throughout the match)