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Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday August 2, 2022, 7:45 pm
Combined Counties League Premier Division South
Farnham Town are old rivals, by Combined Counties standards, having been promoted alongside Jersey Bulls and Walton & Hersham after the records of the two abandoned seasons were combined to calculate who should move up. Farnham were lying second to the Bulls in that first curtailed season and were top in the much shorter one that followed.
Last season was a turbulent one for Farnham, with three different managers. They started slowly culminating in manager, Colin Milland being replaced in mid-December after they lost at Banstead Athletic. New manager, Tony Reid, made wholesale changes and they looked capable of defeating any team in the league when they played a hard fought draw at Springfield in late January. His methods did not suit everyone and after a player revolt in early April and a loss at A.F.C. Croydon Athletic he was replaced by youth team coach Dan Goodall who took over until the end of the season.
In late May ambitious Farnham announced a complete re-vamp of their management team. Major Sean Birchnall, having just retired from the Army, where he was head coach, was appointed manager. He had led the Army to Inter Services and Southern Counties triumphs and was also head coach at Winchester City and helped them win promotion to the Southern League Premier Division for the first time in their history.
Dean Greenwood, previously at Ashford and Knaphill was appointed Birchnall’s assistant along with another “DG” – Dan Goodall, who had taken temporary charge at the end of last season. Richard Ossai became goalkeeping coach and former striker Matt Bunyan returned to join the coaching staff.
Their squad had also been overhauled with only Ashley Lloyd and Ben Bauchop remaining from those who visited Springfield just over six months ago. Their most notable acquisition being Kane Fitzgerald from local rivals Badshot Lea. He was their player of the year last season as well as captain and now takes the armband at Farnham.
Jersey were missing Luke Campbell, Jay Giles and Adam Trotter through injury plus Ben Le Rougetel, Francis Lekimamati, Kamen Nafkha and Jake Prince because of their work commitments. Therefore, they had a largely teenage bench including Miguel Carvalho, who was poised to make his first competitive appearance for the Bulls.
On a humid 20C evening Jersey won the toss and astutely changed ends in order to have the low evening sun behind them. So, it was Farnham that kicked off attacking the West Street end in front of a record breaking attendance that had the club sending out for fresh supplies to re-stock their clubhouse bar. The long dry spell also meant that the pitch was very hard and difficult to play good football on.
Farnham soon set about letting Jersey know that they were “there”. After letting a couple of challenges go William Douglas decided he needed to start taking firmer action and Sean Swift was cautioned after only six minutes. Five minutes later Fitzgerald played the ball inside to Owen Dean who was unmarked in the left channel only a dozen yards out. Van der Vliet, though, pulled off a smart save low to his left.
Jersey countered with a breakaway which James Batchelor ended by only just clearing his own bar and after the quarter hour Jonny Le Quesne still in his own half saw James Ferguson off his line. The well hit attempt cannoned back off the bar, with Ferguson having been nowhere near it.
Jersey’s early control was rewarded when Ruben Mendes fed Fraser Barlow wide on the right. He cut back and floated a left footed cross to the penalty spot where Sol Solomon rose to score a rare headed goal in to the top left corner.
Just after the half hour the treacherous bounce nearly cost the home team dear. An innocuous cross shot from Barlow reared up from near the penalty spot and hit Ferguson on the chest. Solomon seized on the rebound only to see a defender clear his shot off the line and linesman Nicholas Arbuckle’s flag raised for a marginal offside.
Before half time Farnham had two opportunities to equalise. Firstly, a deflected through ball set up Dean down the left channel but Van der Vliet spread himself on the edge of the box to deny him. A minute later a Fitzgerald flick set up Jamie Hoppitt, again left of centre, but he dragged his shot wide of the left post.
Either side of the interval the continuing battle between Lorne Bickley and central defender Ashley Lloyd led to each of them being cautioned. Lloyd’s coming just a minute after Bickley had flashed a header just over the Farnham crossbar after a good run by James Carr had given Frank Tobin another crossing chance from the right.
Ten minutes after the interval came two game changing moments. The industrious Barlow played in Bickley only for Ferguson to partially parry it. It might have spun in on its own but Solomon applied the coup de gras only to be pulled up by Steve Clout’s flag.
Farnham broke to the other end but Fitzgerald was forced wide and his shot from the left could only find the side netting. However, the referee thought it had taken a deflection and so Farnham gained their only corner of the match. Fitzgerald took it and the partial clearance was returned from the other side by Batchelor to above the penalty spot. Another partial clearance fell to Dean ten yards out left of centre and whilst his half volley lacked power it had the virtue of accuracy and nestled in the bottom left corner for the equaliser.
The complexion of the match changed and Farnham began to compete better in midfield and restricting Jersey’s opportunities in the process. Farnham lacked a cutting edge although the bobbly pitch nearly presented Farnham with a winner.
With ten minutes left. Van der Vliet’s clearance went straight to Connor Young but fortunately pinballed straight back to the ‘keeper. In added time substitute Danilo Pereira broke clear on the right but once again Van der Vliet made himself “big” and smothered the chance. That was the last meaningful action of the match in which both sides probably thought of it as a point gained, rather than two lost.
The sharing of the points was probably a fair reflection as both sides found it difficult to play much football on the high bouncing pitch although Jersey might rue not closing out the game whilst they held the advantage in the first hour.
Farnham Town 1 (Owen Dean 58); Jersey Bulls 1 (Sol Solomon 24)
Attendance – 603
Programme – T.B.A.
Farnham Town – James Ferguson, James Batchelor. Liam Flanighan, Sean Swift, Ashley Lloyd, Liam Pestle, Owen Dean, Jack French, Matthew Bunyan, Kane Fitzgerald (c), Jamie Hoppitt
Substitutes – 12. Ben Bauchop (for Swift 57), 14. Ange Djadja (not used), 15. Danilo Pereira (for Hoppitt 72), 16. Cassius Dunstan, 17. Connor Young (for Bunyan 70)
Claret (Light Blue shoulders)/Claret/Claret; GK All Orange
Sean Birchnall (Manager), Dean Greenwood (Assistant), Dan Goodall (Coach), Richard Ossai (GK Coach), Natthan Kim-Sing (Physio.)
Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Frank Tobin, James Carr, James Queree (c), Sammy Sutcliffe, Joe Kilshaw, Fraser Barlow, Jonny Le Quesne, Lorne Bickley, Ruben Mendes, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – 12. Darryl Mvalo (not used) 14. John Lloyd (not used), 15. Harry Curtis (not used), 17. Miguel Carvalho (for Mendes 78), 18. Kieren Stephens (for Le Quesne 68)
Red/White/White; GK All Yellow.
Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Richard Hebert (GK Coach)
Farnham Town (4-4-2 R to L) 1; 2-6-5-3; 7-8-4-11; 10-9
Jersey Bulls (4-1-4-1 R to L) 1; 2-4-5-3; 6; 7-10-8-11; 9
Referee – William Douglas (Maidenhead), his first time officiating Jersey and he was not on the Combined Counties list of officials last season
Assistants – Nicholas Arbuckle (Woking) on the dug out side. He has twice visited Springfield, for the visits of Farnham Town in November 2019 and Fleet Town in April 2022. He was also on the line for the reverse fixture against Fleet in December 2021. Steve Clout (Farnham) on the clubhouse side, another officiating Jersey for the first time as he was also not on the Combined Counties list last season.
Cautions – Swift (FT) 6, Bickley (JB) 44, A. Lloyd (FT) 50
Corners – Farnham Town (0) 1; Jersey Bulls (2) 4
Player of the Match Award – Fraser Barlow (JB)