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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Walton & Hersham
Saturday November 6, 2021, 4:00 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
The Combined Counties “El Clasico” was eagerly looked forward to and it lived up to its pre-match billing. It attracted a crowd of 913, only 14 short of Jersey’s record for a league match. Table toppers Walton & Hersham came in to the match having won seven of their last eight league games and drawing the other one, with a goal tally of 27-1 in those matches. In that spell they could add an 8-0 League Cup victory too.
Relegated from the Isthmian League Division 1 South in 2016 and then the Combined Counties Premier three years later they have since been on an upward path. Promoted along with Jersey Bulls and Farnham Town on the strength of their record in the two curtailed seasons they are now looking for promotion back to the Isthmian League.
In the F.A. Cup they went out in a First Qualifying Round replay after a draw at Beaconsfield Town, two levels higher than them. They have yet to start their F.A. Vase campaign after being exempted to the Second Round on the basis that they reached the last 32 last season.
Walton & Hersham, winners of the penultimate F.A. Amateur Cup in 1973, played
at Stompond Lane until 2017. That became a housing development and the club re-located to the newly built Elmbridge Sports Hub. This riverside site is shared with Walton Casuals of the Southern League, whose old ground, the Waterside Stadium, was on the fringes of the new complex.
The visitors were missing the injured Harry Mills but Reece Brewster passed a fitness test on his back and started for them. Jersey made two changes. They welcomed back Jay Giles after his lengthy injury absence, with Calvin Weir dropping to the bench. Lorne Bickley also returned up front with the suspended Ruben Mendes-Pestana missing the first of his three enforced matches on the sidelines. Otherwise, the personnel remained unchanged although there was a juggling of shirt numbers. Joining Weir on the bench were Daryl Wilson and Karl Hinds, the latter hoping to make his first Bulls’ appearance for twenty months.
An overcast day that was to see spells of swirling drizzle from the half hour mark saw Jersey kick off attacking the Town End. An early corner from Sol Solomon was only just hacked off the line at near post and another from the right shortly afterwards saw Walton ‘keeper, Liam Allen, make a good save from a Bickley header.
Solomon and Bickley were not to be denied though. A Jonny Le Quesne throw-in by the dug outs led to Fraser Barlow finding Solomon on the edge of the box. Beating two defenders he set up Bickley on his left to open the scoring.
Walton were soon back on terms when they were awarded a “soft” penalty. Their first corner (of only two they had in the match) was taken by Alec Fiddes who played it short to top scorer Palace Francis on the byline, just inside the box. He went down, under pressure from Barlow, far too easily for home supporters liking and a penalty was awarded to which the Jersey players vehemently objected. Walton had missed their last four penalty attempts but Joe Pratley-Jones sent Euan Van Der Vliet the wrong way, with a lowish kick to the right, for the equaliser.
Just before the half hour mark another Solomon corner saw Luke Campbell glance his header wide, but another corner on the left led to Jersey’s second goal. Solomon sent it long and at the far post Allen, under pressure from James Queree, failed to hold the ball. It fell to Le Quesne who hooked it across goal where it fortunately found the unmarked Bickley at the left post to stab home from a couple of yards.
Solomon broke clear again but Allen blocked his shot with his legs and when Solomon did so again five minutes before half time he shot just wide of the left post.
Three minutes after the re-start Allen dropped another corner from which Jersey “scored” but the ball was deemed to have been kicked out of Allen’s hands when he attempted to recover. Shortly afterwards a good move put Nafkha in a good position but Pratley-Jones did well to make a shot saving tackle at the expense of a corner which rippled the top of the net.
A run by Alex Kelly down the inside channel was blocked off but Kelly continued unnecessarily into Van der Vliet which saw him need lengthy treatment. Kelly, however, escaped a caution, presumably because the incident had not been seen after the ball had been cleared.
The Bulls responded in fine style to increase their lead. Barlow broke forward but was badly fouled by Louis Collins. The ball broke to Le Quesne and the referee played “advantage”. Le Quesne hit a superb first time twenty yard shot which swerved slightly away from Allen and in to the right corner. In the ensuing celebrations the referee presumably forgot to caution Collins for his blatant attempt to break up the move.
The referee, did not though miss a Barlow and Jacob Munting “meeting” in left midfield, which led to a caution for Barlow and a Walton free kick. Brewster sent it in and captain Joe Hicks, from six yards out, glanced his header wide of the right post. Shortly afterwards Edward Simon tried to lob Van der Vliet from the edge of the box and was only just too strong with his attempt.
James Queree was fouled off the ball and whilst he was being treated Walton made their only substitution of the match with Darren Simpson coming on for Brewster. In the next ten minutes Jersey made two of their own with Wilson replacing Bickley and Hinds on for Nafkha.
Solomon was still regularly running the Walton defence ragged and with eleven minutes to go was brought down by Hicks near the penalty spot. Hicks “gained” the first Walton caution and Luke Campbell hit the resultant kick in to the left corner as Allen gambled incorrectly, to make it 4-1 with ten “normal” minutes left.
What a dramatic fifteen, including the five added on, minutes it turned out to be.
Pratley-Jones began launching long throws in to the Jersey box and from one of these the ball fell to Kelly twenty yards out. Like Simon he tried to lob Van der Vliet and like Simon was just too heavy with his touch. Adam Trotter retaliated for Jersey by getting forward and just missing on the right from the edge of the box.
Then followed what, with the benefit of hindsight, may have been the turning point of the match, when Solomon was substituted after being clattered yet again. It was to prove similar to the England v West Germany World Cup Quarter-Final in Leon, Mexico in 1970. Then England 2-0 up, substituted Bobby Charlton. That allowed Franz Beckenbauer to push further forward and instigate West Germany coming back to a 3-2 win after extra time.
Within a minute Walton had reduced the lead. Francis, wide left, cut in diagonally to the edge of the box and shot low in to the right corner of the net. It seemed only to be a consolation at the time. Jersey advanced again and Allen made a crucial double save from Barlow. Another attack was stopped at the expense of a caution for Pratley-Jones before Jersey made a fourth substitution as Barlow was replaced. Jersey seemed to lose their “shape” with their competitive front runners withdrawn. Attack had been their best means of defence and now “The Swans” poured forward.
In the last minute of normal time Walton gained only their second corner of the match, in the Oxford Road corner. Fiddes sent it to the far post where Edward Simon, eight yards out, jumped to head it in to the left corner, just high enough to evade the defender on the line. It was the first time Jersey had conceded three goals in a competitive game.
Walton now “smelt blood”. With four added minutes played, another long throw by Pratley-Jones was partially cleared but the front men failed to hook it forward and clear the danger. It was returned to the penalty area where Fiddes played in Simon who somehow managed to evade two defenders and as he fell, hooked it left-footed past Van der Vliet.
Within a minute the final whistle went and Walton celebrated deliriously with their small band of supporters. They had ended Jersey’s 100% home league record over their two and a third seasons of existence. Walton came off as though they had won, Jersey as if they had lost. The psychological reactions to an exciting draw. The turnover of three points between the two sides will probably remain a “what might have been” for the remainder of the season.
Jersey possibly thought they had done enough and made four late substitutions. Certainly at 4-1 if anyone was going to score three more goals it looked as though it would be Jersey. It was not to be and Jersey cannot now catch Walton & Hersham, or Beckenham Town, even if they win their games in hand. However, they have now met all the six teams above them, five of them away. Jersey must now make the most of having the majority of their remaining games at home.
Jersey Bulls 4 (Lorne Bickley (2), 11 & 29, Jonny Le Quesne 58, Luke Campbell pen 80); Walton & Hersham 4 (Joe Pratley-Jones pen 15, Palace Francis 85, Edwards Simon (2) 90 & 90+4)
Attendance – 913
Programme – 28 pages, £2
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne, Jay Giles, James Queree (c), Luke Campbell, Kamen Nafkha, Fraser Barlow, Joe Kilshaw, Lorne Bickley, Adam Trotter, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – Jack Griffin (not used), Kieran Lester (for Barlow 89), Calvin Weir (for Solomon 84), Daryl Wilson (for Bickley 72), Karl Hinds (for Nafkha 77)
Red/White/White; GK Yellow
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Dan Seviour (Coach), Jason Carpenter (GK Coach), Richard Hebert (Coach) Chris Hamon (Physio.)
Walton & Hersham – Liam Allen, Joe Pratley-Jones, Louis Collins, Reece Brewster, Max Hustwick, Joe Hicks (c), Alec Fiddes, Jacob Munting, Edward Simon, Alex Kelly, Palace Francis
Substitutes – Darren Simpson (for Brewster 66), Zach Dainkeh (not used), Harry Pointing (not used), Will Kouadvo (not used), Billy Rowley (not used)
Scott Wells (Manager), Billy Rowley (Player/Assistant), Michael Owgu (Physio.)
Navy Blue (White trim across shoulders & down sides of shirts); GK Lime
Referee – Callum Peter (Guildford) Level 4 official in his 9th season with the Combined Counties League
Assistants – Elle-Louise Kaplicz (Walton on Thames) Of Polish extraction, already in her 9th season. Three seasons in the Hellenic League when living in Oxford, then three with the Southern Combination League whilst at Chichester University and now three with the Combined Counties League. Level 3 in the women’s game where she officiates in the women’s Championship. Martin Etheridge (also Walton on Thames) Referees Appointments Secretary for the Combined Counties League and a linesman at Wimbledon for thirty years, where he lined his first final this year.
Cautions – Nafkha (JB) 32, Barlow (JB) 63, Hicks (W&H) 79, Pratley-Jones (W&H) 88
Corners – Jersey Bulls (3) 8; Walton & Hersham (1) 2 – for their first & third goals
Player of the Match Award (sponsors) – Jonny Le Quesne (JB)