Farnham Town 0 Jersey Bulls 2
The Bulls set off 2 hours late from Jersey Airport which meant we were always going to miss the scheduled kick off time of 1230pm. The match referee and Farnham Town were very accommodating and supportive of our issues. We had an additional blow when there was an accident on the M25 meaning we were in danger of being so late we would miss our return flight home!
The Management team agreed that the lads must change on the Coach to the ground. It was certainly a unique experience and first time in the league, the Bulls were in their third shirt in royal blue.
We arrived at Memorial Ground at 1.27pm
and the players with boots on, crossed the main high street and ran down the lane (which the bus couldn’t access) and straight onto the pitch to kick off! No warm up other than the jog and no touch of the ball until their first tackle or pass! Not ideal for a top of the table clash! The lads didn’t even go into a changing room!
Farnham were fired up and started brightly, understandably really! Our keeper, Euan Van Der Vliet was alert to thwart their early pressure. The Bulls are five minutes started to pass, conditions were difficult. The pitch was boggy in places and decent in others. Sometimes a pass needed that extra weight and others needed less power, we couldn’t get it right. When we did a bobble would appear and our forwards would fire high or wide!
The atmosphere was the best we have seen at an away game with the largest crowd this season in the Combined Counties Premier or Division 1. There was groundhoppers, scouts along with home and away fans. The latter included several Jersey families who live in the UK and several Jersey folk visiting fans over the festive period. The Jersey red and white following is certainly growing in the mainland!
In the 20th minute, Farnham had a half chance when their tricky right-winger got in behind our back 4. Fortunately for us, he was indecisive and hit which was neither a shot or a cross when Van Der Vliet should have been tested.
From then on in the Bulls looked strong and favourites to score first. A corner was won from the impressive Daryl Wilson. Jay Giles caught it and hit the ball long and deep to centre half, Luke Campbell who headed back across the 6 yard line. Wilson caught it on the half volley and it was cleared off the line. His strike partner, Kieran Lester was adamant it had crossed the line, but no goal was the decision!
28 minutes gone, the Bulls had a free kick in a dangerous position. Jonny Le Quesne stood over it and smashed narrowly over. Minutes later, the solid Jack Griffin, returning to the starting eleven for the first time in 5 weeks found Wilson with a long pass. Wilson did well to get his pulled back cross into Karl Hinds on the edge of the box. Hinds who had been struggling with staying on his feet in the slippery conditions, twisted and turned and it looked like the opportunity had gone. However, similar to the last time out, our top scorer managed to work some space and fire in hard and low into the bottom corner, GOAL! One chap in the ground was quoted on Twitter, “Absolute class by Jersey Bulls no.10, quick feet in the area, Archie Gemmell style!”
The Bulls continued to press and create half chances with Lester, Wilson, Hinds and Fraser Barlow all looking to double the advantage for the Jersey side. At the back the defence were being well protected by disciplined defending from Le Quesne and the yet again outstanding Adam Trotter.
Half time came and with a pre-agreed 5 minute break it was a case of taken on fluids, some running to toilet and manager Gary Freeman saying to keep up the tempo and hard graft they had put into the first 45 minutes.
Jersey controlled the possession straight from the off and were attacking the main stand behind the slightly uphill goal. We were denied what looked like a penalty when Le Quesne was pulled back but the referee and his more experienced assisted didn’t see it. A corner routine saw Griffin head wide from 5 yards as the pressure was continuously building on the Farnham goal.
Harry Cardwell returning from injury replaced the hard working Lester on the hour. Shortly after, Wilson’s effort saw the Farnham keeper produce an excellent save. Zeljko Martinovic replaced the excellent Barlow to add more pace and power to our game.
Captain, James Queree who was switched to right back had an excellent game and was up and down the right flank providing an outlet as well as being strong in the defence. He nearly scored when a patient, well worked move saw the Bulls move the ball from right to left, when Giles’ crossed into the box and Queree’s volley hit the bar. The linesman also had his flag up which meant it wouldn’t have counted.
5 minutes remained and whilst we appeared in control, Farnham showed why the game was not over with a decent effort from 20 yards went over Van Der Vliet’s goal. Ruben Mendes was introduced to replace Hinds late on and he wasn’t on the pitch long when the Bulls struck their second. A long clearance out of our defence set away Cardwell. His pace meant he was away with just the keeper to beat. He coolly slotted the ball hard and low past the advancing keeper to secure the three points and ensure the Bulls ended 2019 with 20 wins from 20 matches, incredible!
After the match, manager Gary Freeman was very complimentary of both teams saying “both teams tried to play football on a very difficult pitch. We had to do the basics well, which we did and its great to come out with the result.” When asked about the achievement of 2019 winning all 22 competitive matches, Freeman added, “It was totally unexpected (winning every game) and we really need to praise the players for what they have done. We have seen it again today, when you come up against a really decent who are organised team like Farnham Town, it’s not easy to keep finding ways to win, but the players keep doing it and we hope it continues into the new year.”