3 - 0
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Fleet Town FC
Saturday April 30, 2022, 3:00 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
For the past twenty seasons Fleet Town have usually featured in the Isthmian or Southern Leagues, but after eight seasons struggling against relegation from the Southern League they finally succumbed to the drop in 2019. Since then they have spent two mid table seasons in the Wessex League Premier Division.
This season was another one of struggle. They won through two rounds of the F.A. Cup but went out of the F.A. Vase in the first qualifying round. In the league they lie 16th, just above the relegation places, with a 12-2-23 59-82 record.
Fleet, situated in North Hampshire, is right on the border of the Wessex and Combined Counties Leagues’ territories. Fleet Spurs, whom Jersey have met for the past two seasons, are situated just over a mile north-east of Fleet Town.
This season Spurs, after four seasons in the Combined Counties, have returned to the Wessex. However, at a level higher, today’s opponents, Town have moved in the opposite direction.
The sun was shining as this re-arranged end of season match began, with Jersey looking for a win to take them above Badshot Lea and into fourth place on goal difference, and for five goals to reach a century in the league for the season.
The match clashed with the annual Jersey v Guernsey Under 21 fixture so the Bulls were without Sammy Sutcliffe, James Carr, Darryl Mvalo, Sol Solomon and Rai Dos Santos who were all on the Sister Isle representing another Red and White team.
Josh Daniels came in for Sutcliffe with Calvin Weir returning after a period concentrating on local club football. Kamen Nafkha and Jake Prince, both substitutes against Horley Town, started this time, swapping roles with Keiran Lester and Robert Martins-Figueira.
Francis Lekimamati was also on the bench together with John “J.J.” Lloyd hoping to make his first team debut. The nearest Lloyd had previously come to this was as an unused substitute in the Combined Counties cup tie at Tadley Calleva in late October, although he has already played for the Under 23 side.
The match was preceded by the presentation of the Jersey Bulls Fanzone Player of the Season and like the U.K. Supporters Group their award went to Luke Campbell.
Jersey kicked off attacking the Town End and spent the half largely camped in the Fleet half as the opposition played five across the back, presumably in an effort to keep the score down. They almost came unstuck in the eighth minute when Prince’s shot once again hit the ‘keeper’s legs and Lorne Bickley following up put his shot wide of the left post.
Weir tried to lob Roux Hardcastle in the Fleet goal but cleared the bar as well, before he gave Jersey the lead just after the half hour.
Jack Cannon started the move with a pass up the left flank which put Prince in space. He cut in and put in a cross shot that was heading for a defender before Weir darted in to intercept it near the penalty spot and hit a tumbling reverse cross shot in to the bottom right corner and winded himself in the process.
Bickley had a shot blocked by Hardcastle and there were penalty appeals when a Weir cross appeared to be blocked by Luke Larner’s right arm but nothing was given by referee Don Malyon. Hardcastle’s legs thwarted Bickley and Larner looked to get away with another hand ball before Prince tested Hardcastle with a shot he held in front of his face.
Bickley raced clear only for Jack Healy’s flag to go up for what must have been a marginal decision and Adam Trotter then reached the byline, and put the ball across the face of the goal where no team mate was waiting, as Jersey dominated the half but only had a single goal to show for it.
This was quickly remedied. Fleet kicked off the second half but Trotter soon gained possession and played the ball across to Jonny Le Quesne. From twenty-five yards out he hit a powerful right foot shot into the top right corner which also faded away as Hardcastle failed in his valiant attempt to get across to it. Just thirty-one seconds had been played.
Kamen Nafkha looked to be in “danger” of breaking his scoring “duck” only for his shot to be saved and Nick Arbuckle’s flag indicated he was offside anyway.
Cannon was again responsible for the next goal. Galloping down the left his centre to the near post was flicked on by Bickley, hitting Hardcastle in the chest, and leaving Prince to do the honours from a couple of yards out. This meant Jersey had matched their result at Fleet and left them thirty-nine minutes to conjure up two more goals for their hundred.
Bickley had a shot blocked by Shemar Pettet before a trio of Fleet substitutions re-invigorated them and they forced a flurry of corners, their first of the game. Euan Van der Vliet had to save from Khalid Babikir and Fleet thought they had scored through Matthew Pearce in the 79th minute only for Healy’s flag to maintain Jersey’s clean sheet.
Substitute Kieran Lester should have done better when Adam Trotter gave him an excellent opportunity with five minutes left, just after John Lloyd had made his debut appearance. In stoppage time Lloyd hit a cross cum shot from the right that briefly looked like it might creep in the top left corner but it drifted wide and Jersey were left two short of their hundred.
The match over the players delighted their young fans, and possibly other admirers too, by stripping off their tops and donating their shirts to them before they left the pitch for the last time this season.
Jersey Bulls 3 (Calvin Weir 31, Jonny Le Quesne 46, Jake Prince 51), Fleet Town 0
Attendance – 724
Programme – £2, 24pp
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne, Jack Cannon, James Queree (c), Josh Daniels, Joe Kilshaw, Calvin Weir, Kamen Nafkha, Lorne Bickley, Adam Trotter, Jake Prince
Substitutes – Robert Martins-Figueira (for Kilshaw 75), Francis Lekimamati (not used), Kieran Lester (for Prince 68), John “J.J.” Lloyd (for Bickley 84), only four substitutes
Red/White/White; GK All Green
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Dan Seviour (Coach), Fiona Robertson (Physio.)
Fleet Town – Roux Hardcastle, Luke Larner, James Dinsdale, Daniel Bone (c), Khalid Babikir, Shemar Pettet, Rowan Sharratt, Ben Maunders, Mack Vary, Billy Oram, Matthew Pearse
Substitutes – Alfie Neville (for Larner 67), Elliot Amadieu (for Vary 52), Ellis McLeran (for Maunders 59), Daniel Framp (for Pearse 80), Kamdon Simmons (not used)
Yellow/Dark Grey/Dark Grey; GK All Purple
David Kelly (Manager), Tommy Taylor (Assistant), Haig Franklin (Coach), Matt Moore (U18 Manager), Chris Neate (Physio.)
Referee – Dan Malyon (Reading)
Assistants – Jack Healy (Worcester Park) on the dug-out side, Nick Arbuckle (Woking) on the grandstand side. Healy had also been on the line when we visited Walton & Hersham in March, whilst Arbuckle had also covered the reverse fixture against Fleet Town on the mainland in mid-December.
Cautions – none for either side
Corners – Jersey Bulls (4) 5, Fleet Town (0) 6
Player of the Match Award (sponsors) – Kamen Nafkha