Jersey Bulls

1 - 3

Combined Counties League Premier Division South

Balham FC

Wednesday March 30, 2022, 7:45 pm

The Racecourse Ground, Ascot

Combined Counties League Premier Division South

Match Report

Jersey, playing their third and final “home” match on the road, hosted Balham at Ascot United. Their 4G pitch is situated alongside the famous racecourse with the six-furlong marker just behind one corner of the grounds.

The match should have been played at Springfield on 26th February but Balham’s flight to Jersey in the morning was cancelled by British Airways due to B.A.’s continuing computer problems at Heathrow Airport.

These re-surfaced today as Jersey’s flight to Heathrow sat on the ground for 133 minutes after landing, before releasing the passengers. This was due to the failure of the computerised docking system. So rather than being a hostage to technology many were wishing for the return of the men with their “table tennis” bats.

Balham started life as Balham Blazers (Youth) in 2001 and grew to the extent of starting adult sides in 2011 in order for their “graduating” players to continue playing for the club in adult football.

They swiftly moved up the leagues with five promotions in six seasons before being held back by their own ground facilities. They eventually gained admittance to the Combined Counties League by sharing with Cobham.

They finished third in Division 1 and went up to the Premier Division initially sharing at Colliers Wood United. To continue the “C” trend they are now at A.F.C. Croydon Athletic. The F.A. moved them sideways in to the South Eastern Counties League for 2020-21 only to move them back again this season.

This season they won through two rounds of the F.A. Cup before losing to Merstham and they went out of the F.A. Vase to Tower Hamlets.

On October 16th Jersey won 3-0 at Balham to leave the hosts with a 2-2-7 13-22 record and flirting with relegation, but since then their record is 9-2-7 31-20 and they are up to 10th place. In that match they were missing both their top scorer and their captain. Despite that they had early chances to score before Jersey took control.

Sol Solomon returned after injury but Jay Giles, Luke Campbell, and Ruben Mendes-Pestana were all still absent, as was Fraser Barlow after the injury he sustained on Saturday. Frank Tobin and Kamen Nafkha were also unavailable.

Jack Cannon, at 35, became Jersey’s oldest player as he replaced Tobin in defence. Solomon replaced Barlow and Francis Lekimamati swapped flanks as he made his full debut. Nafkha and Jack Lumsden were replaced on the bench by Rai Dos Santos and Josh Daniels, with the latter hoping to make his debut.

The match was preceded by a minute’s applause for Redditch Town player, Tom Rankin, who had died on Sunday. He was a university friend of both Jonny Le Quesne, who took the captain’s armband for the night, and Balham’s top scorer Tom Lanek-Read.

On an evening that featured a chilly north-easterly breeze and occasional drizzle Jersey kicked off, defending the racecourse end, against the prevailing elements.

An early warning was served to Jersey after only two minutes when a cross from the left was headed narrowly over the bar, from a dozen yards out, by Sam Pagano.

Five minutes later Balham took the lead with a superb goal. A long ball diagonal pass from the halfway line by Laurie Goddard found Tomacz Wocial on the edge of the box. Wocial hit it first time in to the top right corner – a contender for any team’s goal of the season.

Midway through the half Solomon jinked through right of centre but from a narrow angle his shot was deflected on to the right post by Balham ‘keeper Sam Riley, for a corner. On the half hour Bickley powered through on the left but his shot was blocked by a central defender.

Five minutes later Balham increased their lead. A long ball in from the left reached the far post six yards out where Pagano came in on Cannon’s blindside to volley home to give Euan Van der Vliet no chance of retrieving the situation.

Luke Hedges had a chance to add a third but James Queree managed to get in a block and the deflection was then slowed enough for Van der Vliet to correct his direction and catch the looping ball. In added time Karl Hinds and Solomon linked up well to put Bickley in on the right but he could only find the side netting rather than going across Riley to the left corner.

On the hour Jersey introduced Jake Prince and Rai Dos Santos for Lekimamati and Hinds, with the latter already booked and then seemingly unhappy at being replaced.

Bickley made a good run down the left before Riley palmed away his shot and Sammy Sutcliffe then had a golden opportunity from six yards. However, he volleyed the ball in to the ground which allowed Riley to recover and push it over the bar.

Jersey brought on Kieran Lester for Bickley but with a quarter of an hour to go Lanek-Read added their third. Collecting the ball in the box left of centre he cut in and then swivelled to send a right footed shot through Le Quesne’s legs and in to the bottom left corner past the unsighted Van der Vliet.

With just over ten minutes remaining Dos Santos made a good break down the left and cut in despite Erick Arias hanging on to his shirt throughout. Slowed down he was eventually caught and a goal kick ensued. Lester’s protestations at the injustice only managed to earn him a ten-minute sin-bin from the referee who was presumably unsighted whilst the lengthy foul was committed. Josh Daniels made his debut when he replaced Sutcliffe for the last five minutes.
A Solomon free kick from wide left rattled the crossbar before he scored from twenty-five yards in the fifth minute of added time. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and then out where Lester headed it home but assistant Aaron Baker called the referee over to indicate that the initial shot had crossed the line for the Jersey consolation goal.

Jersey Bulls 1 (Sol Solomon 90+5), Balham 3 (Tomasz Wocial 7, Sam Pagano 36, Tom Lanek-Read 76)

Attendance – 88

Programme – 10pp online only, gratis

Jersey Bulls – Euan Van der Vliet, Jonny Le Quesne (c), Jack Cannon, James Queree, Sammy Sutcliffe, Joe Kilshaw, Francis Lekimamati, Adam Trotter, Lorne Bickley, Karl Hinds, Sol Solomon
Substitutes – Josh Daniels (for Sutcliffe 85), Rai Dos Santos (for Hinds 61), Kieran Lester (for Bickley 73), Jake Prince (for Lekimamati 61), Kevan Nelson (not used)

Red/White/White; GK All Yellow

Gary Freeman (Manager), Kevan Nelson (Assistant), Dan Seviour (Coach), Richard Hebert (GK Coach)

Balham – Sam Riley, Erick Arias, Kojo Kyei, Dan David (c), Mark Palmer, Jake Henry, Sam Pagano, Luke Hedges, Tom Lanek-Read, Laurie Goddard, Tomasz Wocial
Substitutes – Ed McCrea (for Arias 61), Innocent Waziri (for Hedges 69), Cam Gordon (for Lanek-Read 88), Jack Noctor (sub GK, not used), only four substitutes

White/Black/Black; GK All Green

Greg Cruttwell (Manager), Dare Jeanpierre (Assistant), Seneye Morrell (Physio.)

Referee – Fadi Mansour (Northolt) An Iraqi by birth who moved to the U.K. before his first birthday. 10th season officiating, initially in the Middlesex County League, then four seasons in the Spartan South Midlands League before the F.A. regional re-organisation this season re-allocated him to the Combined Counties League.

Assistants – Matthew Childs (Three Mile Cross, Reading) on the dug-out side. Qualified in 2018 when living in Andover so has been with the Wessex League until this season. Aaron Baker (Woodley, Reading) on the clubhouse side, qualified in 2000 and previously with the Hellenic League until the regional re-organisation.

Cautions – Karl Hinds (JB) 49, Tom Lanek-Read (B) 72, Ed McCrea (B) 90+2, Innocent Waziri (B) 90+4)

Sin Bin – Keiran Lester (JB) 79

Corners – Jersey Bulls (1) 3, Balham (0) 0

Player of the Match Award (on line voting) – Sammy Sutcliffe 22, Sol Solomon 13, Jake Prince 8, Adam Trotter 4


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