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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday July 31, 2021, 1:00 pm
Eden Park Avenue
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
The Bulls’ starting team remarkably only showed three changes to their last outing at Billingshurst almost ten months previously. Kamen Nafkha who had been suspended for that game, Adam Trotter who had been injured, and Lorne Bickley, making his competitive debut for the Bulls, all coming into the side.
Bulls regulars Jack Griffin and Kieran Lester were on the bench alongside three prospective debutants, Joe Kilshaw, Luca Margaroli and Jake Prince.
Beckenham Town had been moved across, under the F.A. re-structure, from the Southern Counties East Premier Division, where their record last season of 7-3-3 33-18 saw them lying 5th before the “curtailment”. The Bulls on the other hand had been elevated from Division 1 on the strength of their 100% record in it over the past two abandoned seasons.
Playing in Kent for the first time it was a tough debut for Bulls at the higher level and one of the few games on today for those clubs that wanted a competitive match under their belts before the F.A. Cup Extra Preliminary Round next week. Beckenham had, however, played 9 pre-season friendlies, whereas all those that the Bull had arranged had succumbed to the pandemic restrictions.
On a cloudy afternoon the Bulls kicked off attacking the clubhouse end which has verdant trees lined behind it as indeed has the end they were defending. The ground staff should be commended too as the pitch was in excellent condition.
The start of the match between two of the pre-season favourites for the division saw the Bulls start well, but clear cut chances were at a premium. Bickley, on the turn, whistled a shot just over from 20 yards in the 7th minute and Beckenham also put one just over on 19 minutes but Euan Van der Vliet had watched it carefully all the way.
Numerous combative exchanges tested the referees’ patience and when a Jersey raid by Sol Solomon down the left was stopped by a Stefan Cox foul just after the half hour, as a light drizzle began, he was the first to enter the officials’ notebook.
A “colourful” remark at this point by Cox, which will no doubt have further ramifications for him, saw him receive a straight red for that comment alone.
Fraser Barlow received a shortish corner from Mendes-Pestana a couple of minutes before the break only to see Nick Blue in the Beckenham goal pull off a good save from his low cross shot which meant that the interval arrived goalless.
Beckenham re-organised after the break with a substitution and going to five across the back in order to nullify Bulls man advantage in the second half.
Nevertheless Beckenham managed the odd raid and when Archie Johnson got forward on the left he managed to stumble over the ball just inside the box.
As he was disentangling himself, a defender saw a chance to dispossess him but it was just too late and a rather soft penalty was the consequence. Steve Townsend stepped up and put it into the bottom left corner sending Van der Vliet the wrong way.
Bulls responded but Blue pulled off another save and the rebound was put over. Blue was busy again on the hour saving from Solomon.
With twenty minutes to go the Bulls decided to freshen their attack which saw both Prince and Margaroli come on for their debuts in a double change.
Blue did well again a quarter of an hour from the end when his legs denied Lorne Bickley and within another minute he had again thwarted the Bulls.
Beckenham continued to run the clock down with numerous delaying tactics as they clung on to their precious lead. The referee duly saw fit to add 8 minutes 20 seconds to the match and in the fourth of these Van der Vliet came up for the Bulls eighth corner of the match. He met the ball firmly but could not keep it down and with it went Bulls last chance in a match in which Van der Vliet had not had a save to make.
Frustrating for the Bulls, but they no doubt will now encounter many more tough opponents at this higher level. Beckenham will look back on this far more favourably as they snatched a win with only ten men for over an hour. They had Nick Blue, in particular, to thank as he became the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against the Bulls, as he thwarted anything that the resolute back five missed.
Beckenham have another home match next week when they entertain Colliers Wood United, who also play in the Bulls division, in the Extra Preliminary Round of the F.A. Cup. Meanwhile the Bulls will make their eagerly awaited debut in that competition at home to Horsham Y.M.C.A. of the Southern Combination, formerly the Sussex County League.
There are 729 entrants setting out on to road to Wembley with 348 of them competing next Saturday. Let us hope that at the end of it the Bulls are amongst the last 555.
Saturday 31st July 2021 (1p.m.)
Combined Counties Premier Division South
Beckenham Town (0) 1; Jersey Bulls (0) 0
(Steve Townsend penalty 54)
Attendance – 325
Programme – 28 pages (A5, full colour) £2
Beckenham Town – Nick Blue, Jamie Brown, Archie Johnson, Junior Kaffo, Callum Henry, Mudagha Wanogho, Stefan Cox, Danny Waldren (c), Tunde Aderonmu, Tom O’Connor, Steve Townsend
Substitutes – Nick Curran (not used), Tyrone Pink (for Aderonmu 71), Rob Carter (for O’Connor 46), Damien Ramsamy (for Brown 60), Dennis Doci (for Henry 75)
Jason Huntley (Manager), Billy Walton (Assistant), Phil Wilson (Coach), Peter Sweeney (Coach), Steve Kendall (Physio.)
Red Shirts with White Shorts & Socks; GK All Green
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne, Jay Giles, James Queree (c), Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha, Fraser Barlow, Adam Trotter, Lorne Bickley, Ruben Mendes-Pestana, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – Jack Griffin (not used), Joe Kilshaw (not used), Luca Margaroli (for Mendes-Pestana 71), Jake Prince (for Barlow 71), Kieran Lester (for Bickley 87)
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Jason Carpenter (Physio.)
A first outing for the new Black & White halved shirts with Black Shorts & Socks;
GK All Yellow
Referee – Dele Sotimirin (Brixton), his first Bulls match as he does not officiate at Division 1 level.
Assistants – Gareth Mays (Tadworth), who refereed the Bulls at Godalming and against Sandhurst Town at Springfield in our first season, and Max Edwards (Lambeth).
Cautions – Stefan Cox (Beckenham Town) 32 followed by a remark to the referee which earnt him a straight red for that alone, Ruben Mendes-Pestana (Jersey Bulls) 44, Steve Townsend (Beckenham Town) 88, Damien Ramsamy (Beckenham Town) 90+5
Corners – Beckenham Town (1) 1; Jersey Bulls (4) 8
Player of the Match Award (unofficial) – Nick Blue (Beckenham Town GK)