There was no shortage of entertainment for spectators at Priory Park and hundreds of others watching around the globe, as the Kernow Football Alliance and Chagos Islands played out a 13-goal thriller on Sunday.
The 2020 ConIFA World Football Cup (WFC) qualifier ended 10-3 to the Cornish hosts, with Kernow striker Dan Jennings leading the scoring chart with four of his own, whilst Mark Goldsworthy (Kernow) and Diviyen Sooprayen (Chagos) netted hat-tricks for their respective sides.
Also on target for Darren Gilbert’s side were Olly Brokenshire and Nathan Summers while Chagos’ Clyde Jacques was unfortunate to divert the ball past his own goalkeeper and into the back of the net.
Despite the eagerness to secure vital points to help nail down a WFC spot, both sides set aside their competitive edge before and after the game to share in each other’s culture, with a lively pre-match press conference and rousing renditions of the anthems a particular highlight.
In this first meeting of the two teams – and following the ceremonial handshakes and customary photos side by side before kick-off – it was Kernow who started the brighter, with Brokenshire denied the chance to get on the end of a Tallan Mitchell cross by Chagos goalkeeper Mike Sakir.
In front of their home fans, Kernow weren’t going to be kept out for long and the deadlock was broken soon after when Goldsworthy took the ball down on the left side of the box, cut in and shot right footed into the bottom corner. Brokenshire later doubled Kernow’s advantage following some pinball in and around the area.
Chagos hit back with Guillaume Augustin narrowly clearing the crossbar with a well-struck shot but Kernow’s focus was unbroken as Mitchell worked hard down the left hand side before feeding Goldsworthy, who finished cooly inside Sakir’s near post.
Chances continued to swing from one end to the other. The visitors worked a nice move through the centre of the pitch which ended with skipper Sooprayen guiding a shot past Jason Robertson before a Kernow free-kick, taken by Mitchell, was sent over the bar.
Kernow restored their three-goal advantage when Jennings beat the offside trap and rounded the ‘keeper before passing the ball into an empty net. Good work from Jennings’ strike partner, Goldsworthy, allowed him room to set up the former for a simple tap-in to leave the half-time score at 5-1 in favour of Kernow.
Further goals could have been scored prior to the referee’s whistle, however, with Goldsworthy coming close and Robertson scrambling to keep out a Chagos set-piece which ultimately went off target.
The second period began in a similar style, as Jennings turned a shot past the post while Goldsworthy beat an onrushing Sakir but, stretching to get something on the ball, couldn’t quite angle it home.
Kernow’s sixth arrived when the unlucky Jacques turned the ball past his own ‘keeper following a drilled cross into the box and a seventh followed shortly after when substitute Summers sent in a low shot to the ‘keeper’s left from the edge of the box.
Chagos pulled a goal back through the impressive Sooprayen, who showed good skill under pressure, before Jennings completed his treble at the other end with a composed finish. The visitors were denied a penalty when Sooprayen was brought down inside the box before, at the other end, Summers sent a shot over the bar late on.
There was still time for Kernow to reach double figures, with Jennings smashing the ball into the top corner of the net from close range. Kernow, who were able to introduce manager Gilbert into proceedings, also brought 16-year-old ‘keeper Jack Heaton on for his international debut.
The youngster drew a large cheer when he made his first big stop but was powerless to prevent Sooprayen breaking free, drawing him out and sliding the ball past him to complete the scoring later in the game.
Talk in the clubhouse after the final whistle was of a return fixture sometime in the near future. With two wins from two international fixtures, Kernow have taken to ConIFA life very well and, having welcomed Barawa and now the Chagos Islands to Cornwall, are eager to create links with other members around the world – while giving them a good game at the same time!
Kernow: Jason Robertson, Tom Hands, Tyler Tonkin, Tom Chambers (capt), Tom Whipp, Ed Timmons, Harry Clarke, Olly Brokenshire, Mark Goldsworthy, Dan Jennings, Tallan Mitchell; Subs: Tom Harris, Jack Heaton, Billy Hopcroft, Nathan Summers, James Lorenz and Darren Gilbert
Chagos: Mike Sakir, Murphy Oxide, Clyde Jacques, Jason Vythilingum, Damien Fortune, Diviyen Sooprayen (capt), Gael Moutien, Ned Pierre, Louis Casimir, Samuel Rabot, Guillaume Augustin; Subs: Atkinson Sobha, Ivan Antalika , Ryan Lemaitre, Dezi Sambouag, Garyson Jean louis, Norman Rabot, Franzi Lamb, Andrew Heroseau and Driss Cantal
Picture: Steve Winters Photography