Island Games 2023: Jersey's men cruise into football semis

Island Games 2023: Jersey's men cruise into football semis
Jersey took nine points from three group games in Guernsey - credit Sportscast Jersey/Jersey FA

Jersey's men have progressed from their Island Games group for the first time since 2011, remaining unbeaten and topping their pool after a comfortable 5-0 win over St Helena.

Goals from Toby Ritzema (2), Karl Hinds (2) and Luke Watson ensured it was three wins from three for Elliot Powell's side, earning a spot in Thursday evening's semi-finals where they'll face either hosts Guernsey or the Isle of Wight.

Jersey started brightly against St Helena at Northfield, the same ground at which they'd beaten Menorca less than 24 hours earlier. Dominating possession and territory, in the blink of an eye it was 2-0. There were just 70 seconds between Ritzema's two goals; the first side-footed home when a deflected free kick reached him at the far post, and the second stabbed home on the half-volley.

Jersey could have had a penalty when Francis Lekimamati appeared to be tripped in the box but the referee wasn't convinced and pointed for a corner rather than to the spot. Lekimamati was to be involved in the third though, on the stroke of half time, when he found space out wide on the right and his low cross was turned in from close range by Hinds.

Jersey crashed out in the group stage at their home Games in 2015, and also narrowly failed to make the latter stages of Gotland 2017 and the 2019 spin-off event in Ynys Mon.

Within two minutes of the restart it was 4-0. Lekimamati showed neat footwork to play in Miguel Carvalho. His low ball across the six yard box found Hinds who tapped in his second of the morning.

Jersey were to have the ball in the net on three more occasions, all called back for offside, before substitute Luke Watson headed in the fifth with 15 minutes to go.

Powell, who is in interim charge after Martin Cassidy stepped down from the role, led his club side St Peter to the Jersey Premiership this season, conceding just six goals in their 14 league games. Now Jersey are showing similar resolve, their goal is still to be breached in the 270+ minutes they've played at this tournament. Scored 10, conceded none. One suspects, though, the likes of James Queree and Luke Campbell will face a sterner test in the knock-out stages.

"The most pleasing thing about the group stage is the defensive shape that we've shown and that's something we've really tried to drill into the lads," Powell told

"We're asking different things of them from their club set ups, to have that shape from the front. Lorne Bickley's been absolutely superb in that regard and today Hindsy leading the line did it superbly as well.  

"We got all 18 lads into the first two games. We've got everyone involved, which is not the norm for Jersey in Island Games. We always knew it was going to be a squad effort, we've got strength in depth and trust every single player. We've not really broken our momentum or stride by making so many changes across the three games, and that's a pleasing element as well.

"Today's game was about getting the job done. We've come through unscathed and haven't picked up any daft suspensions for the semi-final."

Jersey win the group with nine points, ahead of Gozo (6 points), Menorca (3 points) and St Helena (0 points).

Guernsey and the Isle of Wight meet this evening at The Track (6.30pm), with the winner setting up a last-four showdown against Jersey, who last won men's football gold in 2009 in Aland. Two more wins would end the wait.

Results: Jersey 1-0 Gozo, Jersey 4-0 Menorca, Jersey 5-0 St Helena.