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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday December 18, 2021, 4:00 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
The last league match of the year saw Knaphill as the visitors. Situated just west of Woking they joined the Combined Counties League in 2007 and possess one of the better grounds in the division. They won promotion to the Premier Division in 2014 and have generally been in the top half of the division ever since, with a best finish of fifth in 2016. They also won the League Cup in 2018.
This season they sit mid table in 11th place with a record of 4-9-6 35-35. They have recorded draws with three of the top six – Beckenham Town, Redhill and Raynes Park Vale. In the F.A. Cup they beat Lordswood on “penalties” after a replay, before losing in another replay to Ashford Town (Middlesex). In the F.A. Vase they lost in their first match, to Royal Wootton Bassett Town, by the only goal of the game.
Jersey made just one change to the starting line up last week at Fleet, with Adam Trotter resuming midfield duties in place of Joe Kilshaw. Jack Griffin and Ruben Mendes-Pestana were retained on the bench, alongside Kilshaw. They were joined by Kieran Lester and young goalkeeper, Robbie Scott.
Jersey, second after last week’s match had dropped back to fourth due to midweek results, but had the chance to regain the higher spot as all five of their main rivals had their matches called off. This was due to either themselves, or their prospective opponents, being affected by the latest wave of the pandemic and having to quarantine.
A bright, still, sunny day, albeit only 8C, had given way to dusk by the 4p.m. start which saw Jersey kick off attacking the Oxford Road end.
Knaphill, although with numerous changes to their last league outing, appeared a well organised side that kept the Bulls at bay in the early stages of the match.
Adam Trotter hit a thirty-five yard shot which went straight to Jos Barker in the Knaphill goal, before Lorne Bickley played Sol Solomon in, but his shot to the top left corner was well saved by Barker at the expense of a corner. Fraser Barlow set up Karl Hinds but his attempt was well wide to the left.
A seemingly innocuous long ball forward by Knaphill’s Owen Tanner from the grandstand side line midway inside his own half had dramatic consequences just before the half hour.
It was overhit and met by Euan Van der Vliet five yards outside his own penalty area as Timmy Taylor, marshalled by James Queree, chased forlornly after it. If Van der Vliet had been inside his own area it would have been a straightforward “take” but in trying to chest it down he slightly misjudged the angle of flight after the bounce and it caught him high on the right side of his body or was it his right arm?
Assistant referee Tom Murray raised his flag and numerous Knaphill appellants were
convinced of the worst case scenario, whilst the Jersey contingent also pleaded their case. It left referee Maros Valko having to arbitrate and decide if it was a “DOGSO” – denial of a clear goal scoring opportunity. Taylor was unlikely to have reached the ball but would Tanner’s long ball have reached the goal by itself?
After the various pleadings by both sides Van der Vliet was eventually dismissed and further delay was caused in getting substitute ‘keeper Robbie Scott ready. Fraser Barlow was “sacrificed” for the substitution and Scott took over in goal to face the free kick, twenty-five yards out right of centre.
Taylor struck it well and hit the right post, possibly off Scott’s fingertips. Unfortunately for the latter it rebounded on to his prostrate body and in to the net to give Knaphill the lead against the ten men.
It did not auger well for Jersey but they re-grouped. Solomon hit a thirty-yard free kick to the top left corner which Barker dived across to push away. Solomon swung in the subsequent corner to the right of centre where Youcef Azzouz and Luke Campbell challenged for it. The subsequent header resulted in the equaliser which was very generously credited to Campbell to make the interval score one apiece. The goal was Jersey’s “career” 200th in competitive matches spread over three “partial” seasons.
The man advantage was not apparent in the second half and Jersey often were able to push forward. James Queree put a powerful header just over and Kamen Nafkha, still looking for his first Bulls’ goal, shot wide from twenty yards.
With twenty minutes to go a ball in from the left was nodded down by Bickley to Hinds. He astutely dummied a defender but Barker did well to advance quickly and smother his shot. The subsequent corner to the far post saw Bickley outjump Barker and a defender to knock the ball back across to Jonny Le Quesne. He headed goalwards but it would have been cleared by the covering defenders on the line if Bickley had not nipped in and headed home from a couple of yards.
Knaphill, seemingly content with a point until this juncture, made a couple of attacking substitutions, whilst Jersey replaced Hinds with Ruben Mendes-Pestana.
Le Quesne made an excellent break down the right and crossed for Solomon. The ball would not quite “sit” for him and he shot in to the ground with the ball skimming the bar before going for a goal kick. Knaphill retaliated with a couple of corners, the first from the Oxford Road side was heading directly in to the top left corner before Scott managed to push it aside for the second.
This was the last serious threat to either goal so Jersey clung on to a vital three points with only ten men and are now just a point off top place with two games in hand.
They resume “hostilities” in the New Year against Frimley Green but as they sit out the next round of matches on 27th December, they may have been displaced from second spot by the time of their next match.
Jersey Bulls 2 (Luke Campbell 41, Lorne Bickley 71); Knaphill 1 (Timmy Taylor 34)
Attendance – 667
Programme – 24 pages, £2 (misdated 19th)
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne, Jay Giles, James Queree (c), Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha, Fraser Barlow, Adam Trotter, Lorne Bickley, Karl Hinds, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – Jack Griffin (not used), Joe Kilshaw (not used), Kieran Lester (not used), Ruben Mendes-Pestana (for Hinds 74), Robbie Scott GK (for Barlow 33)
Red/White/White; GK Green
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Richard Hebert (GK Coach), Jim Robertson (Physio.), Kayne Bickley (Assistant Physio.)
Knaphill – Jos Barker, Owen Tanner, Lloyd Connelly (c), Timmy Taylor, Connor Holland, George Butler, Jacob Lambe, Mohssine Sabek, Youcef Azzouz, Jack Williamson, Connor Westney
Substitutes – Luke Taylor (for Azzouz 75), Jamie Daltrey (for Lambe 81), Ihor Babchynister (for Sabek 55), only three substitutes
All Bright Yellow with Black across the shoulders of the shirts and down the sides of the shorts; GK Light Blue
Jamie Daltrey (Joint Manager), John Cook (Joint Manager), Steve Cavey (Coach), Chris Draine (Physio.)
Referee – Maros Valko (Lambeth) A Slovak who moved to England in 2013 and played for Thamesmead Town in the Isthmian League until 2017. Upon retiring as a player he took up the whistle in 2018 and was on the line at Springfield in 2019 when the Bulls met Dorking Wanderers reserves. This season he was also on the line for the first meeting with Sutton Common Rovers in the F.A. Cup., alongside Fabien Le Houezec, the referee last week at Fleet Town.
Assistants – James Bird (Wycombe) Qualified in 1989 and has officiated in the Hellenic League until this season when the geographical re-structuring brought him in to Combined Counties territory, and Thomas Murray (Crawley), previously of Sutton, now in his third season with the Combined Counties League.
Caution – Jamie Datrey (K) 90+2
Dismissal – Euan Van der Vliet (JB) 29
Corners – Jersey Bulls (5) 7, Knaphill (0) 3
Player of the Match Award (sponsors) – Adam Trotter (JB)