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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Raynes Park Vale FC
Saturday March 5, 2022, 4:00 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
In their last game at Springfield for four weeks, due to the renovation works taking place there, this was a potential “banana skin” for Jersey as they faced Raynes Park Vale.
The opponents, based two miles south of Wimbledon, have been in the Combined Counties League since they were formed in 1995, by a merger of Raynes Park and Malden Vale. Raynes Park Vale finished 5th in the Premier Division in the last completed season of 2018-19 but were in the bottom half for the two ensuing curtailed seasons.
This season they are again one of the contenders, currently lying sixth, but like Jersey having only played twenty-three matches. Their record is currently 15-4-4 63-29. They were the early league leaders, winning their opening four games with a goal count of 15-1. They then met three other contenders (Beckenham Town, Badshot Lea and Walton & Hersham) in successive weeks. No goals and no points.
They then brought in five new players and after meeting Jersey on 30th October they had had a further two wins and three draws. Jersey that day escaping with a draw after an 88th minute Sol Solomon equaliser negated a gift goal for their top scorer, Jordan Gallagher, just after half time.
Since that day they have only dropped points on two occasions, a 1-2 loss at Horley Town and last week’s 4-4 draw with Farnham Town after leading 4-2.
In the F.A. Cup they went out 2-3 at home to V.C.D. Athletic, who Jersey disposed of in the next round, but they reached the last 32 of the F.A. Vase. Four successive home wins followed by a win at Crawley Down Gatwick saw them attract 580 for the visit of giant killers Stansfeld. They went down 1-2 and the Stansfeld run was only ended on penalties, in the next round, by Southall of the Combined Counties Premier Division North, after a goalless draw.
Jersey’s squad of 16 for the match was the 14 at Camberley Town two weeks ago, except for Kevan Nelson, plus the return of Frank Tobin, Kamen Nafkha and Fraser Barlow, all of whom started. Jonny Le Quesne, Jake Prince and Ruben Mendes-Pestana made way and were joined on the bench by Joe Kilshaw and Kieran Lester.
A sunshine and showery morning saw an afternoon of 7C but with a biting strong easterly wind that made it feel less than that, particularly when it brought rain and hail with it briefly before half time.
Jersey kicked off attacking the town end with the wind behind them but even with this advantage they could make little headway against the resolute defence of Raynes Park Vale. Chances were minimal as Jersey’s defence was just as firm.
Midway through the half the stocky Reece Bowers-Williams, formerly of A.F.C. Wimbledon, failed to get much of his head on a Jordan Stepney chip forward which found him well placed close in and the attempt went wide of Euan Van der Vliet’s left post. Just after the half hour a Sol Solomon free kick on the left corner of the box was played in low to Karl Hinds at the near post. Hinds laid it off to Luke Campbell but it was at an awkward height and he could not keep the ball down.
Shortly afterwards Kamen Nafkha became the first of ten to enter Oliver Kaya’s notebook when he reacted to what the crowd considered Louie Downey’s continual wind-up tactics. Downey stayed down as though he had received far more than a push and he spent the rest of the afternoon at the receiving end of the crowd’s cat-calls. The free kick nevertheless went to Jersey and from this, Solomon created an excellent opportunity for himself but from close in, leaning back, he cleared the bar which left the scoreboard empty as the weather deteriorated before the interval.
On the resumption, top scorer Jordan Gallagher went down looking for a penalty when challenged by Van der Vliet, but Kaya was well positioned to deny that and produce a card for simulation. Within a minute Solomon had an excellent chance to lob the opposition skipper, Billy Bishop, in the Raynes Park Vale goal. However, his attempt from the edge of the box lacked both strength and direction and drifted slowly wide of the right post.
It was a costly miss as five minutes later Gallagher opened the scoring. A hopeful first-time ball forward by Downey reached right back Archie Harland-Goddard scampering forward and his deftly lobbed cross found Gallagher charging in, past Tobin, at the far post for a free header with the Jersey defence vainly appealing for offside.
Barlow’s first attempt at an equaliser was thwarted by Bishop’s legs and another from twenty yards out went wide right. Jersey’s pressure eventually told with a dozen minutes remaining when Lorne Bickley, advancing through the middle, was brought down by a combination of Reece Hannigan and Jordan Stepney. Luke Campbell dispatched the consequent penalty by sending Bishop the wrong way.
Further assaults on the Raynes Park Vale goal were repelled in the air by Hannigan, and on the ground by a number of fouls which brought the visitors card count up to seven by the final whistle. Solomon had a penalty appeal declined five minutes in to added time to leave a hard-fought match with the honours even and the same score as when the teams had met in South-West London back in October.
Jersey Bulls (0) 1 (Luke Campbell penalty 78); Raynes Park Vale 1 (Jordan Gallagher 55)
Programme £2, 24pp
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Frank Tobin, Jay Giles, James Queree (c), Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha, Fraser Barlow, Adam Trotter, Lorne Bickley, Karl Hinds, Sol Solomon.
Substitutes – Ruben Mendes-Pestana (for Trotter 79), Joe Kilshaw (not used), Kieran Lester (not used), Jake Prince (for Hinds 79), Jonny Le Quesne (for Tobin 79)
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Dan Seviour (Coach), Richard Hebert (GK Coach), Jim Robertson (Physio.)
Red/White/White; GK – All Yellow
Raynes Park Vale – 1. Billy Bishop (c), 19. Archie Harland-Goddard, 13. Callum Hope, 6. Reece Hannigan, 26. Jordan Stepney, 4. Seanan McKillop, 8 Louie Downey, 2. Eoin Fraser, 17. Brad Sweeney, 10. Jordan Gallagher, 33 Reece Williams-Bowers.
Substitutes – 18. Jamie Beveridge (not used), 5. Nathan Lewis (not used), 16. Josh Gallagher (Manager) (not used), 15. Louis Cockle (for Jordan Gallagher 89), 12. Del Davies.
Josh Gallagher (Manager, on the bench), Anthony Panyai (Assistant), Daniel Canning (GK Coach/Physio.), Chris Williams (Conditioning) plus the unlisted Jake Gallagher (Secretarial).
All Blue (Yellow trim); GK Mint Green
Referee – Oliver Kaya (Wokingham) – who also refereed Jersey at Frimley Green earlier this season and was due to referee the Balham match postponed last week.
Seven years a referee, previously with the Hellenic League but re-assigned to the Combined Counties League this season under the geographical re-structure.
Assistants – Roger Wells (Coulsdon) on the dug-out side and on the line at Banstead Athletic and had previously visited Jersey for the Eversley and California match in September 2019. With the Kent League for fifteen years and the Combined Counties for the last sixteen. Thomas Murray (Crawley) on the grandstand side, previously of Sutton, now in his third season. After two seasons officiating with local Academy sides, his first season with the Combined Counties League. On the line at Springfield earlier this season for the Knaphill match in December.
Cautions – Nafkha (JB) 36, Jordan Gallagher (RPV) 49, Tobin (JB) 53, McKillop (RPV) 62, Giles (JB) 70, Sweeney (RPV) 70, Anthony Panyai (RPV Assistant Manager) 70, Hope (RPV) 76, Fraser (RPV) 77, Downey (RPV) 86
Corners – Jersey Bulls (1) 3, Raynes Park Vale (0) 3
Player of the Match (commentator) – Luke Campbell (JB)